by Lenice Basham, PairADice Mules, Belle, Mo
For the whole story on the National Championship Chuckwagon Races, be sure to check out your October 2011 issue of Mules and More, where Lenice writes about the races (the people who watch and the people who compete), the mule clinic, and the all mule competition!
Imagine making a choice to either finish your chemotherapy with little hope from the doctor that it will work or attend your very last National Championship Chuckwagon Races. Add to this choice the knowledge that you have been attending the races for years and five of your son’s race – and to that the desire to be there when your sons race across the finish race. It isn’t a choice many of us are going to be forced to make. It isn’t a choice that the HeeHaw Express team family made lightly. But Gina Lile Woody, of Dike, Texas, did just that. In 2009, she went to watch what she thought would be her last chuckwagon championships in Clinton, Ark. Gina had been fighting breast cancer that had returned twice, and she thought it was the end. Her sons battled the competition all the way thinking of their Momma in the crowd, and they went on to win the National Championship Big Mule race that year with her smiling and cheering. She was in the crowd for the 2010 races, as well.
At the beginning of this year, her son, Seth Lile, decided to break the team of mini mules he had bought for Gina to drive around camp before she got sick. “In January, I was working with the littlest mule, and it ran me into my truck and broke the bottom headlight,” said Seth, “But I told her to get off her ‘hind-end’ and come help me break them once I got them going a little better. We would work them after I got home from work, and before long, my mom would have them all harnessed and ready for me to get in and go with her.”
The team decided they were going to participate in the rookie series, in hopes of qualifying to race at the National Championships. They traveled to three of the four races and got a spot in the big races. Imagine her surprise and delight – to not only recover, but be part of the races!
“We really thought that she wouldn’t be here this year,” said Seth. “It really shows the difference between just sitting around when you are sick and having something to do and some inspiration to get better.”
Gina listened to her son tell her story with an enormous smile on her face and pride in her features. “I came to race this year with the Breast Cancer flag flying high,” said Gina. “I am thrilled to be here - Thrilled to be anywhere!”
New to the championship races, Rookie Races in the areas of Oklahoma Land Rush (seven teams raced), Buckboard (three teams raced), Big Mules (eight teams raced) and Classic (five teams raced) had a Rookie Race on Thursday afternoon in order to compete for two spots in the Oklahoma Land Rush, one spot in the Buckboard, two spots in the Big Mules and one spot in the Classic Races. The HeeHaw Concentrate team made one of those two spots along with the winner of the entire Oklahoma Land Rush, Piney Creek, who had a driver who was only 13 years old.
Gina races under the The HeeHaw Concentrate team name. Her sons who race under “HeeHaw Express” wear pink all three days in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. They both proudly fly a flag bearing the Breast Cancer Awareness symbol.
October is National Breast Cancer Month. Statistics show that breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer, striking 1.3 million men and women annually. Take a few minutes to find out what you can do to help develop a cure. Our family is racing for the cure as part of the Susan B. Koman Run for the Cure. Other cowboys are tough enough to wear pink with a portion of their entry premiums going to the fight to cure breast cancer. Together we can make a difference.
Our congratulations go to the Lile/Woody family. May you have many, many more years of chuckwagon racing!
GINA and her team before the Oklahoma Land Rush
SETH LILE and SAM WOODY before the big mules race with the breast cancer awareness flag all the HeeHaw Express teams fly