Bobbie Jo Haught is thankful longtime family friends faithfully turn out in force to help host the various Gracie Haught Children's Memorial Fund benefits.
"They keep turning up, just like angels," she tearfully said, following the inaugural Gracie Haught Memorial team roping held Aug. 11 at the Payson Event Center.
"They come from all over, some from as far away as Oklahoma, but they always show up."
Haught praised those friends and volunteers as the keys to the success of the first-ever team roping and various other fund-raising events held throughout the year.
All are conducted in memory of Gracie Haught, Bobbie Jo's daughter, who died three years ago in a accident in Star Valley.
Following the girl's death, who was then 3 years old, the memorial fund was established to aid Rim Country children and families in need.
The proceeds from the team roping, an evening dance and various other activities held throughout the day, are expected to exceed $20,000.
Bobbie Jo said she was excited about the amount earned, especially since it was an inaugural event and she didn't know what to expect.
"I think we did real well, thanks to all those who helped out," she said. "The dance earned $2,353.94 thanks to the Mazatzal Casino and the (Tonto Apache) tribe."
The team roping, and a barrel-racing event held Aug. 10, drew competitors from around small-town Arizona.
After a full day of heading and heeling, the team of Garrett Haught and Bill Jack Ewing were awarded hand-tooled saddles for their first-place finish. For the duo, Haught was the header and Ewing heeled.
Header Terri Haught and heeler Eddie Stockton lassoed second-place honors.
George Ewing, working as the header and heeler, Ty Scott, were third.
Jason Stockton, the header, and heeler, Julie Taylor, hog-tied fourth-place laurels.
As competitive and festive as the roping was, it might have been the drawing for a 2007 Ford Ranger truck that turned into a highlight for Jack and Sandee Koon.
In a raffle drawing, the husband and wife -- who were working a concession booth at the roping -- were clutching the winning ducats.
The truck was donated by Don King and several accessories by Phil White Ford.
The success of the event has Bobbie Jo and her friends eagerly anticipating next year's roping.
"We are looking forward to it," she said.
The event helps her family and friends deal with the anguish caused by the loss of her child.
"It (the anguish) has never gone away, but the fund is an outlet for grief and a way to help children and families in need."