Barrel racing series honours rodeo supporter

“Each time his body somehow…miraculously recovered.” Kaylee-Jo Henkelman

Bobbi Henderson keeps her eye on the barrel during the Lyle Norn Memorial Barrel Racing Series May 14.

Bobbi Henderson keeps her eye on the barrel during the Lyle Norn Memorial Barrel Racing Series May 14.

The Ponoka Stampede grounds are already seeing some rodeo action with a barrel racing series honouring a man who had rodeo in his blood.

Organizer Kaylee-Jo Henkelman planned the event called the First Annual Lyle Norn Memorial Barrel Racing Series to honour her grandfather Lyle Norn, who passed away after losing his battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She says Norn was a big supporter of her adventures in barrel racing and high school rodeos she attended.

“He followed me around to all of my rodeos,” she said.

She wanted a chance to remember him in a positive way after his life took a tragic turn for the worst when he was diagnosed with COPD June 2013. To make matters worse, Norn was also diagnosed with CO2 retention, an issue where too little carbon dioxide is removed from the lungs. “His lungs actually weren’t expelling CO2,” said Henkelman.

The challenges he faced with CO2 retention were almost insurmountable. Norn suffered a total of four seizures that left him in a coma each time. Every time Norn was unconscious, doctors said his chances of waking were slim to none. However, Norn was a fighter.

“Each time his body somehow…miraculously recovered,” stated Henkelman.

But the toll of four seizures was too great on his body and Norn died February 2014. Henkelman felt this barrel racing series would be an appropriate way to remember him.

“He was always a really big figure in our life,” she said.

This year Henkelman and co-producer Shayna Dodds got together in the last few weeks and organized the series and support has been almost overwhelming.

They are hosting six events — with the first already completed May 14 — every Wednesday with the last race on June 18.

She said the barrel racing series is a 4D jackpot with peewee and youth categories and the high point in the open series will receive a saddle. Entries occur before each event.

A raffle fundraiser will occur each week as well; Henkelman received donations of items from $300 to $500. Money from the raffle is going to the Red Deer Hospital Rehabilitation Unit.

Henkelman said if it were not for the many sponsors, the event would not have been possible. She hopes to add team roping to the series next year and wants to have the series end the week before the Ponoka Stampede.