Round-Up’s Let’er Buck Room volunteers donate $2,600 in tips to Children’s Rodeo

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Volunteers for the Pendleton Round-Up’s famed Let’er Buck Room have donated more than $2,600 in tips they received during the 2013 Round-Up to the InterMountain Education Service District’s (IMESD) Children’s Rodeo for children with special needs. Let’er Buck Room Director Mike Ledbetter and his wife Jill presented the Children’s Rodeo planning committee with a check for $2,618.08 earlier this month.

“We are so thankful of the Pendleton Round-Up and the volunteers in the Let’er Buck Room for their support of the Children’s Rodeo,” said Children’s Rodeo Director Karen Parker. “When Mike first contacted us about donating the tips, we never would have thought it would have amounted to this much. It just goes to show how important the Children’s Rodeo has become and how supportive people are of these kids. It’s heartwarming.”

Ledbetter said his volunteer servers in the Let’er Buck Room came up with the idea to donate their tips to the Children’s Rodeo. They had no idea how much they’d raise, and hoped they’d be able to come away with a few hundred dollars. Ledbetter said servers kept tip jars behind the bar during the Wednesday and Thursday rodeos and placed tips they received in them. However, during the Friday and Saturday rodeos, the servers placed tip jars on the bar tops. When someone placed a tip in the jar, the servers would ring a cow bell to thank them and announce the tip. That ringing bell encouraged others to leave tips.

“And once people found out that the tips were going to the Children’s Rodeo, all of a sudden they started putting $10 and $20 bills in the jars,” Ledbetter said. “It just sort of snowballed from there.”

Ledbetter said servers “didn’t really push it too hard with the tips” because they’d never typically asked for tips in the past. However, after this year’s success, he’s hoping to be more deliberate with the tip jars in 2014.

“Next year, we want to try to do something a little different to see how much we can raise,” Ledbetter said, including possibly posting signs about the tips’ proceeds going towards the Children’s Rodeo.

In addition to the more than $2,600 in tips, Ledbetter also donated around $300 in cash to the Children’s Rodeo from selling empty whisky bottles after the rodeo and other events throughout the year that take place in the Let’er Buck Room.

The Children’s Rodeo is an annual event that takes place the Wednesday of the Pendleton Round-Up, just before the first main rodeo event. It allows around 40-45 children with special needs from around the eastern Oregon region to participate in rodeo-related activities, such as riding a horse, taking a ride in a horse-drawn buggy, roping a pretend steer, milking a pretend cow, and riding a pretend bull. Volunteer cowboys – many of whom are Round-Up competitors – are paired with each child to assist them with each activity. The event is sponsored by the IMESD, Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon associations.

For more information about the Children’s Rodeo, please visit


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