One of the most meaningful things for the diverse gay and straight athletes and fans who join IGRA is the commitment to using rodeo as a fundraising vehicle to benefit many worthwhile charitable organizations. The LGBT community has long been known for its generosity to its local communities and organizations, and IGRA has two internal groups that raise money – members of the IGRA Royal Court and the Men of Charlie’s, representing the four Charlie’s establishments in Denver, Phoenix, Chicago and Las Vegas..
Jason Bernard, who oversees the royalty program, says that it’s the royalty court ambassadors and their sashes and crowns who are the marquee sign of IGRA. Beginning in 1986, the original benefactor of the money raised by IGRA Royalty was the Muscular Dystrophy Association but over the years it has grown to include other charities, like HIV/AIDS organizations, Miles For Smiles and a variety of local organizations providing meals, clothing and rehabilitation services. This year’s court includes: Madison Deveroux (Mason Lyon), Miss IGRA 2016; Tom McCarthy, Mr. IGRA 2016; Mary Honeycutt, Ms. IGRA 2016; and Macc Country (Lize MacDonald), MsTer IGRA 2016. Members of the 2016 outgoing royal court have raised more than $27,000 for IGRA, its charities and local associations.
Guy Puglisi is chair of the IGRA Trustees who serve as the conduit between the local associations and the international organization, sanctioning and approving local rodeos. But he is also very involved with the Men of Charlie’s that got started in 1985 and has been recognized as a “man of the month” for his fundraising efforts. Although he says he got “dragged into being part of it” back in 2007, I suspect no one had to twist his arm too hard to join since Guy is very engaged in the rodeo at many levels, including being a certified rodeo scorekeeper.
John King, owner of the Charlie’s establishments has long been a tireless supporter of the rodeo and is himself, a member of IGRA’s 2005 Hall of Fame class. So it’s no surprise that you’ll find a Men of Charlie’s group at each of the four locations busy raising money for non-profit organizations in their areas through their man of the month contest. There are over 250 members of this group spread throughout the four locations and their combined efforts have resulted in over $750,000 donated to the LGBT community. They also donate time to the rodeos and Pride events.
Pictured: Mary Honeycutt, Compete Magazine MVP for October 2015 as Ms. TGRA (Texas Gay Rodeo Association) for 2015