Cowgirl U and Clovis Rodeo Association Team Up for Central California Blood Center

Cowgirl U event took place at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds on Mar. 18, 2017. (Photo by Ron Sundquist)

Live country music provided by Chris Curtice & Wild Horses greeted guests at the Clovis Rodeo Association Hall on Saturday, March 18.

Over 400 women dressed in western attire took part in the 9th annual Cowgirl U luncheon fundraiser. Hosted by the Clovis Rodeo Association (CRA), the sold-out event featured silent and live auctions, libations, delicious food and exceptional company.

The luncheon was made possible by a multitude of businesses, groups and individuals that donated bid items.

“Cowgirl U is always a great event,” said Gary Bower, president of the CRA. “The Clovis Rodeo Association is always proud to host this wonderful event, and serve the ladies throughout the day. The Central California Blood Center and Clovis Rodeo Association have had a great relationship throughout the years, and look forward to many more.”

This year, proceeds are to going to help launch a campaign to fund a new mobile unit for the Central California Blood Center (CCBC).

“Making blood donation comfortable, safe and convenient is important,” said Leslie Botos, CCBC Director of Community Relations & Development. “We need a larger, 30-40 foot vehicle in order to handle all aspects of blood donation. Our Valley weather can be too hot and too cold to handle registration and refreshments outdoors, so the larger vehicle will make a tremendous difference.

Debbie Poochigian and Fresno Sheriff Margaret Mims. (Photo by Ron Sundquist)

“AB 32, which details restrictions that help improve air quality, will require that our older bloodmobiles with older technology engines be converted to use cleaner fuel or taken out of service. The age of our larger bloodmobiles does not justify the expense of the conversion so we will retire them in the next couple of years. This vehicle we are raising money to purchase will replace an older vehicle in our fleet.

“The new vehicles are expensive – the new one will run about $400,000.”

Adding to the spirit of fun and giving, this year’s event introduced the first Heart of the Cowgirl Award, celebrating women whose lives demonstrate the value, influence and contributions that helped shape the Central Valley.

Chris Sorensen, formerly the Director of Community Relations at the CCBC for 17 years until her retirement in August, 2015, received this award.

“Chris loved Rodeo, had a fabulous idea to bring the Blood Center and Rodeo people together and created a wildly successful event,” said Botos. “Chris started an event that makes a difference! And how happy and grateful we are that the Clovis Rodeo Association continues their partnership. It was very important to us to honor Chris Sorensen with the first annual Heart of the Cowgirl award.

“63 years ago the Blood Center was founded by what is today the Fresno Madera Medical Society to assure a safe and plentiful blood supply for patients who receive care throughout the Central Valley. Today we continue as an independent, community blood center dedicated to our lifesaving mission. We operate one of only two full-service, donor testing laboratories in California. Every day we need 300 donors to meet growing patient needs. We are not-for-profit, and provide care for people, wherever and whenever the need.”

Chris Curtice and the Wild Horses Band entertains the guests. (Photo by Ron Sundquist)

The CRA will host the Clovis Rodeo Blood Drive on April 26, from 5:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Donors who give a pint of blood receive a coupon good towards one free Sunday rodeo ticket with the purchase of one Sunday ticket.

“We are looking forward to our annual blood drive coming up next month,” added Bower.

The all-volunteer, non-profit CRA has 700 members. More than $175,000 in proceeds from the Clovis Rodeo and related events coordinated by CRA members benefit local charities annually.

The 103rd Clovis Rodeo tickets are now on sale. Purchase them by going online at, visit the ticket office at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds, or call 559-299-5203.

Carole Grosch :