As Australians everywhere turned their workplaces blue on Friday in memory of Amy “Dolly” Everett and to support her family’s anti-bullying campaign, Shannon Bleakley is hoping to replicate that show of support when people attend a charity rodeo planned for Springsure in February.
She and her fiance, Dan Roberts, wanted to take a stand against bullying in the wake of Dolly’s January 3 suicide, which has touched so many people, and felt that a rodeo would provide the best opportunity for many to join in.
“Between Dan and myself, we have six children,” Shannon said. “The oldest is a 10-year-old girl, not far off Dolly’s age. It really hits home that this could happen to your family.”
In the 12 or so hours between putting up a call to action video on Facebook and speaking with the Queensland Country Life, Shannon said the post had received just under 250,000 views.
“Hundreds are messaging us – we’re overwhelmed with the response,” she said. “People want to donate money and time, and I’d love to think we’ll see a sea of blue at the Springsure showgrounds on February 10.”
While the couple wants to raise money for the Dolly’s Dream Foundation, a trust launched by the Everett family to increase awareness about bullying, anxiety and youth suicide, they hope it will also send out a message that someone is listening and that help is available.
Shannon said depression and anxiety were important topics for all living in the bush, especially teenagers coping with hormonal changes and the demands of school, and the implications of modern communication means on top.
“A lot has changed since I was that age,” Shannon, 30, said.
“I wasn’t even subjected to a nasty text. It didn’t happen unless someone had the guts to stand up to you, but it doesn’t take a strong person to hide behind a keyboard.
“If just one person walks away from this rodeo with an improved life outlook, it will be worth it.”
The couple undertake a lot of rodeo DJing work with their music business, All Tunes Entertainment, and Dan is a newly retired bullfighter, and so they felt their skills could best be put to work in that arena.
Many details of the day/night event on February 10 are yet to be worked out but Shannon said the Doin’ it for Dolly charity rodeo would include open, novice and junior bull rides, saddle bronc and bareback events, poddy and steer rides, and open, novice, junior and mini barrel races, and would be followed by an after party.
As details are finalised, Shannon said the rodeo Facebook page would be updated.
“We want to say thank you to everyone who’s offered to help so far. It’s been an amazing response and we hope it keeps up.”
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This article first appeared on Queensland Country Life