The Calzavara Memorial Rodeo Scholarship Fund was formed to honor Rudy & Gene Calzavara, founders of the Big Hat Rodeo Company in IL. They were a fun loving, couple who worked and rodeoed together for over 61 years. Rodeo has been a way of life for over 97 years for this family. Both came from rodeo backgrounds, Rudy whose father and older brother were stock contractors, beginning in 1920. Rudy competed in Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestling, Calf Roping and Bull Riding. He was a spectacular trick rider, renowned pickup man and stock contractor. Rudy’s wife Gene was one of 10 kids that performed as trick riders & trick ropers with their rodeo clown father. Known as the “Graham Western Riders” they were featured at venues from Madison Square Garden to Denver. Over the years Rudy & Gene raised 4 kids and mentored hundreds more, using livestock and rodeos to impart some valuable life lessons. Most of all they simply loved young people and everything rodeo. They were always lending a helping hand to rodeo contestants and personnel and treated people as family.
Gene passed away in May of 2011 and in March of 2015 Rudy joined her. Their children and several dear friends came together and made the decision to establish this memorial scholarship fund to aid young people from across the country who are continuing their education while involved in the sport of rodeo. At least one Big Hat Rodeo per season will benefit the Scholarship Fund. In 2016 the Great Midwest Pro Rodeo in Elkhorn, WI was held to raise more scholarship funds. The Calzavara family believes that helping a few great rodeo kids make furthering their education a little bit easier will continue to make Rudy & Gene proud.
Scholarship eligibility is simple. If you are involved in the sport of rodeo in any way, attend an accredited college or university on a full-time basis with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and are looking for some financial assistance, you qualify. Three $2,500.00 scholarships will be awarded on July 30, 2017 and winners will be notified on August 1, 2017 if they are not present at the rodeo.
Good Luck, God Bless & Long Live Cowboys and Rodeo!