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Edna bull riding event to honor service members

By Bianca Montes
July 1, 2014 at 2:01 a.m.

Zachary Miles, Gonzales native and member of the Professional Bull Riders, straddles a bull. Miles will compete Thursday at the Red, White and Bulls competition in Edna.

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Red, White and Bulls

• WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday

• WHERE: Brackenridge Main Event Center, 284 Brackenridge Parkway, Edna

• COST: $12 for advanced tickets; $15 at the door. Free for all with a current or expired military ID card and for children 5 and under.

Army Sgt. Alex Alvarez grew up riding bulls. But after returning home from deployment in Afghanistan with injuries to his back and legs, he was no longer able to ride.

To help extend the message of Warrior's Weekend, Alvarez and a friend, Staff Sgt. Dean Plummer, created Edna's first Red, White and Bulls event, which will kick off Thursday at Brackenridge Main Event Center.

"In the military, we always try to help each other out and do for each other," Alvarez said. "I wanted to do something for our fellow brother."

The bull riding competition is open to the public but free for all active and retired service members.

Gonzales rider Zachary Miles, who took home second place Saturday at the Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding event, is set to compete Thursday.

"They fought for our country and represented the United States," he said. "They're braver than I am."

Red, White and Bulls will kick off with a tribute to fallen soldiers, a ceremony Alvarez said will be unlike anything ever seen in the Crossroads. The ceremony, he said, will center on a battlefield cross, final roll call and "Amazing Grace" performed on a set of bagpipes.

"That's what we do down on the range when we move a soldier," Alvarez said. "I have never seen it done here. I've had to endure it during my career - it's a powerful thing to witness."

A meet and great with the riders and a live auction also will take place.

The event will conclude with a championship round in which the top five riders will be brought back to the pit to battle it out for first place. Each rider will represent one branch of the military.

"It would mean a lot for me to win that," Miles said. "It's a great deal, a great honor."

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