In the first few months of the existence of the Ty Pozzobon Foundation, over $50,000 has been raised through numerous generous donations and merchandise sales. Much work has already taken place however this is only the beginning.
“We have big plans to do a lot more than what we are starting with right now, but we have to walk before we run,” Tanner Byrne says of the work of the Ty Pozzobon Foundation. “Everybody is wanting to help and make a change for the positive.”
The mission of the Ty Pozzobon Foundation is: “To protect and support the health and well-being of rodeo competitors inside and outside the arena.”
“We want to get the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team (CPRSMT) to every Pro Rodeo and bull riding in Canada, then work on high school rodeos, amateur rodeos, and youth rodeos,” Byrne said. “We want to help start our youth out the right way with the right education on injuries and taking care of yourself. We want to see concussion protocols developed and not let anybody slip through the cracks.”
“There is a lot of stuff that Ty and I talked about with bull riding and the sport itself,” says Tanner as he works to raise awareness about concussions and mental health. “We knew that we were good at what we did and that we had a voice. Now I am taking that as a way to also move forward”
“We are behind the eight ball big time on taking care of our athletes, bull riders and cowboys,” Byrne said. ” Having sports medicine at every professional rodeo and bull riding in Canada is our first step. We have to start somewhere.”
Working closely with Brandon Thome of the CPRSMT, action has been taking place so far in 2017.
“With the support of the Foundation, we have already went from booking 21 events in 2016 to over 50 so far in 2017,” said Thome. “Most of these are from adding bull ridings into the mix. With the ability to go to all of the professional bull ridings in the Canada we are able to provide consistent care to the competitors. This should mean less injuries will fall through the cracks and be treated in a timely and effective manner.”
The CPRSMT is a strong member of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) and bull riding family. Many athletes rely on these professional to keep them competing and making a living. Adding concussion related protocol, training and education further equips them to continue adding to the overall health and wellness of the competitors.
“Seven years ago we tried to implement a concussion protocol that consisted of baseline concussion testing athletes primarily in bull riding and bareback riding. This was not mandatory and thus was very hard to implement,” said Thome, reflecting on the steps the CPRSMT is taking to support athletes impacted by concussions and mental health.
Steps are being taken, however they all take time.
“We have created a protocol for the CPRA and with the hopeful support of the membership we will move to this protocol,” said Thome. “Along with the Ty Pozzobon Foundation and Paul Brandt’s Black Hat Initiative, we are working on creating two educational videos for younger rodeo competitors and one for the professional rodeo crowd.”
But what happens when someone calls or shows up with mental health or concussion related concerns?
“We are working to build a support system for the competitors who are experiencing or dealing with mental health conditions whether it be injury related, family related or career related,” Thome said. “Currently when we have competitors that are dealing with concussions we have a referral system to the Benson Concussion Institute or the Acute Concussion Clinic at the University of Calgary. At the Benson Concussion Institute, there is the ability to utilize psychologists that work with mental health patients specifically related to concussions. We are slowly building our referral base as well with other practitioners that can deal with these types of disorders or illnesses.”
More work has yet to be done, but help is out there as Byrne mentioned.
“It’s all for the positive and trying to make our sport better for our next generation. We aren’t out to wreck the sport and we aren’t trying to hinder the sport in anyway,” says Byrne. “Hopefully we can change people’s mind on sports medicine and five years from now it won’t even be a thought. We won’t have to be the ones stepping up to get them at the events. It will be as important in the budgets as the announcer and bull riders. We have to take care of our product and athletes.”
In line with the steps that have been taken already to better support rodeo athletes mentally, Brandon and I have joined together to host an Applied Suicide Intervention and Support Training (ASIST) through the Centre for Suicide Prevention on May 25-26 in Calgary. The program is targeted towards CPRSMT members and athletic therapists, however it is open to anyone who is interested in learning how to better support and connect someone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide.
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is an intensive, interactive, and practice-dominated course designed to help caregivers recognize and review risk, and intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. It is by far the most widely used, acclaimed and researched suicide intervention training workshop in the world. For more, visit: www.suicideinfo.ca/workshop/asist
There are 30 spots available. Any proceeds above the amount budgeted will be donated back to the CPRSMT and earmarked for mental health related projects or training. The facility has been donated by Mount Royal University so we are able to offer it at a discounted rate. The cost is $168 which includes a workbook and certificate upon completion.
Please email email@example.com for further information on the ASIST training or to register.