What is the image in your mind when you think of a cowboy? Is he a tough guy? Is he weathered by life’s hardships, and prepared mentally as well as physically to tough out more? Is he physically strong from years of packing hay, wrestling stock, and long drives on the trail? Is he mentally tough from knowing the hazards and losses of the unpredictability of ranch life? Is he firm in his mind on what he believes and unwavering in his voice when he speaks it?

Is he the type you’d listen to if he told you to MAN UP?

Everyone looks up to the cowboy, and they have for a long time. Whether it was Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, Jim Shoulders and Lane Frost, your grandpa, or just that guy you knew in the Wranglers, when a cowboy speaks, people listen, and when that voice is used to enact positive change it can be a powerful thing! In a world that focuses on the negative, anyone who steps up with a powerful voice for truth and justice, is a welcome voice, indeed. When this ideal comes from the legendary cowboy, it may be just that much more pronounced.

Thomas training for his first 5KThat’s exactly what prompted Keiran Donahue to start the Man Up Crusade to end domestic violence. As the sheriff of Canyon County, incidences of violence against women and children affected him to the point that this lifelong rancher decided enough was enough, and enacted a project to help protect those who needed protection the most. Thus, he began this crusade, dressing cowboys in their finest purple to signify that we are tired of the violence, we are tired of the abuse, and we are going to MAN UP against it. Sheriff Donahue’s efforts have focused both on general awareness of domestic abuse, and raising funds for the agencies that serve victims, with each event supporting a local organization that provides aid to victims. Starting in his own backyard, the movement has grown to be included at rodeos all across the West, lending a hand from cowboys across the region to anyone who needs it.

Events range from rodeo appearances to golf tournaments, and races to barbecues, and they include a wide variety of options, mostly centered around rodeo performances and held during rodeo weeks. The idea of gathering people together for the cause of showing a stand against violence is a powerful thing, and the sight of cowboys and cowgirls in their purple saying we’ve had it is as impactful a thing I’ve seen since the “Tough Enough” movement. It’s happening all over now, too, with events for 2014 lined up from Washington to New Mexico, in Cheyenne and Salinas, and all over.

While it’s great that the crusade has gained steam and is moving through both PRCA and local rodeos in many places, it is here at home that is the place of my primary concern.  This is why, as a Downtown Nampa business owner, I am particularly proud that the “Run To The Rodeo” 5K race will be taking place in our beautiful historic area this year! I’m definitely biased about the locale, but also excited enough about the purpose of the race that I’m actually going to enter this one and run it myself. Mind you, I’ve never run a 5K before — in fact I’ve never even run any race before.Typically if you see me running, you should assume I’m being chased and join me, but this time I’m doing it intentionally and purposefully. (Feel free to join the race on July 12th or come watch this cowboy try to run the distance. It ought to at least be entertaining for that!)

Domestic violence and abuse are rampant, and there is simply no room for them in our communities. No woman or child deserves the tragedy of being in harm’s way, and the Man Up Crusade is the West’s way of drawing a line in the sand. It is a good start that we will commit to be people of honor, morals, and love in our own relationships, but it is not enough when there are others who have no such ethics. We will not stand idly by to allow anyone’s safety or health to be endangered. We will not be silent, we will not turn away from lending aid, and we will not back down from our quest to end this epidemic. We will MAN UP, and we will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

And we’ll do it proudly in purple the whole way!

Are you a victim of domestic violence, physical or sexual assault, or any other form of abuse? Help is available for you from a variety of resources.  You do not need to keep silent – we are here for you!

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