OGDEN — It started with honoring the bravery of soldiers and cancer patients.
But Bradie Jill Jones soon realized all walks of life can offer examples of heroism. So she widened the scope of her “Hot Laps For Heroes” program.
As part of her duties as the newly crowned Miss Rodeo Ogden, Jones appears at rodeos around the state. It helps promote Ogden’s Pioneer Days Rodeo, which begins Friday evening at Ogden Stadium.
She decided her running of quick laps — called hot laps or buzz runs in rodeo parlance —around arenas at the start of rodeos afforded her a chance to do more than market Pioneer Days.
She wears red, white and blue ribbons or lockets customized to recognize the person she’s honoring on a given night.
“I wanted to bring honor and recognition to men and women who have sacrificed and are true heroes,” Jones said.
At first, she focused on veterans.
“My dad is a veteran, and he has had fallen comrades,” Jones said. “We have a deep sense of gratitude that they have given their lives.”
One night she rode in honor of a great-uncle, Sheldon Hollingshead, who was a three-year prisoner or war and survived a grueling forced march in World War II.
She also tied into the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” program, which honors those with breast cancer.
“I rode in honor of my sewing teacher, Julie Boyer,” Jones said. “She beat it, and she’s definitely a hero in my book.”
Then Jones heard about Riley Howell.
The 21-year-old Howell was in class at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in May when a man opened fire. He charged and tackled the shooter. He was shot three times and died but his bravery helped end the threat.
So all this year, Jones, a 24-year-old University of Utah graduate from Henefer, will keep looking for more heroes to honor.
She’s also motivated by the thought that heroes should not be forgotten, and their families should know other people still care.
“By bringing up the memory like this, they will know they’re not forgotten,” she said. “They are very much still honored.”
Jones said she contacts families of those she honors, inviting them to the event and give them pictures of the events.
“It’s meant the world to them,” Jones said. “It has been so gratifying to hear back from them.”
She invites email at email@example.com from people who know of other local heroes who could be honored.
Two local military men who lost their lives in Afghanistan also are being saluted by Jones.
At the Oakley Independence Day Rodeo on July 4, she recognized Army Sgt. 1st Class Elliott Robbins, who died in Afghanistan June 30. Robbins was buried Thursday in North Ogden.
This coming Monday at Pioneer Days, Jones will ride in recognition of Brent Taylor, an Army National Guard major and North Ogden mayor who was killed in Afghanistan last November.
Jones said she did not want to view her reign as Miss Rodeo Ogden to be a “this is all about you” thing, so she also notified rodeo queens around the country about Hot Laps for Heroes. Some of them have taken up the cause as well.
“This has been a unique way to honor heroes through my actions and share that glory with them,” she said.