Team Ropers Unite To Help Families


Team ropers will gather next weekend in Show Low to help raise money for local teen Kayla Woolwine and the Martin family, who reside in the White Mountains.

Team ropers will gather next weekend in Show Low to help raise money for local teen Kayla Woolwine and the Martin family, who reside in the White Mountains. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Whether it’s the battle being waged for tourist dollars or prep sports supremacy, Payson and the White Mountain area towns are often at odds with one another.

But the people of Payson and Show Low will unite in one common cause June 8-9 at the Sixth Annual Verl Gillespie Memorial Team Roping.

All proceeds from the roping will benefit local teen Kayla Woolwine and the Martin family who reside in the White Mountains.

Woolwine’s dilemma is well-known locally — the former Payson High volleyball player was hospitalized on Feb. 18 with a blood infection that caused a stroke. The infection then moved into her heart, creating damage only open-heart surgery could fix.

Since the teen fell ill, several benefits have helped her family deal with health care costs.

In the White Mountains, the Martin family once operated a popular deli.

The family’s world came crashing down when the father was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the mother died unexpectedly, said Trent Gillespie, one of those who will help host the memorial team roping.

Since the parents had three daughters, the White Mountain communities are rallying support much like those in Payson are doing for Woolwine.

“We have our team roping in honor of my grandfather and we decided to donate all the money we earn this year to the Martin and Woolwine benefits,” said Gillespie. “The good thing about this is every dime we earn will go to them, not a cent goes elsewhere.”

In the White Mountains, the memorial is a much-anticipated affair partly because Verl Gillespie, a longtime working cowboy, was so well respected prior to his death.

“He was a fine man, well liked,” his grandson said.

Two days of roping

The roping will be held at the White Mountain Vacation Village Arena in Show Low.

Books open at 7 a.m. on Saturday and roping begins at 8 a.m.

On Sunday, books open at 9 a.m. and roping gets under way an hour later. Ropings on Saturday include No. 14 draw pot, No. 12 over/under and No. 10 pick one, draw two.

On Sunday, roping is No. 8, pick one, draw two.

Entry fees range from $40 to $120.

Prizes will include trophy saddles, a Polaris side-by-side ATV, Yellowhair buckles and cash payouts based on the number of entries.

On Saturday between the No. 12 and No. 10 ropings, the Generation West drill team will perform.

Also, the event will feature several lively raffles and auctions.

For more information, call Gillespie at (928) 242-1734.

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