BOZEMAN — A controversial call rocked the rodeo world earlier this month that was supposed to be the breakout moment for Canadian tie-down roper Beau Cooper, which not only denied him the Rodeo Houston title but also a life-changing grand prize of $50,000.
However, despite what was maybe one of the lowest moments of his young career, he’s now using it for good by helping out a fellow cowboy, ex-Montana State rodeoer Caleb Berquist.
“I felt a little wrong about taking other people's money and so I just felt like I could use it for a greater purpose," Cooper explained. "Being able to pass it on to Caleb and his family and let them use it, you know, felt like the right thing to do.”
On the same weekend that Cooper was stripped of a first-place finish at the Houston Rodeo after a line judge flagged him for breaking the barrier on what many believe was an equipment malfunction, one of Montana State’s former rodeo stars was fighting for his life.
Berquist, who won the men’s all-around last year in the Big Sky Region, was in an accident on his family's ranch in eastern Washington while trying to wrangle some yearling cows on the morning of March 20.
According to a Facebook post, the former Bobcat was in a side-by-side riding up a cow trail without a seatbelt on before it flipped. Berquist tried to jump, but the side-by-side rolled over on top of him puncturing his lung, rupturing his knee, crushing his T12 vertebra, and leaving him with no movement below his ribs.
“His dad Shane was saying that he's starting to get some feeling back in his lower half, you know, no real movement yet, but he's starting to get some feeling so that's a good sign," Cooper shared.
While Cooper has never actually met or spoken to Berquist, he's a big reason why the rodeo community has now raised more than $60,000.
That’s because after a GoFundMe was initially started for the Canadian roper to make up for losing out on grand prize money, he’s now redirecting those funds to Berquist’s medical bills.
"That's kind of the cowboy ethics, you know, that everybody's got everybody's back out here," Cooper explained. "It's pretty cool to see all that support. You know, that kind of feels like the support that I had Sunday and Monday morning. I'm glad that all those people were able to pull together for the real right thing.”
Montana State will be holding its annual spring rodeo April 13-16, which head coach Kyle Whitaker says will include a benefit for Berquist. A link to his GoFundMe can be found here. For updates on Berquist's recovery, click here.