Laird benefit planned for Saturday

Family and friends of the late Brendon Laird will come together on Saturday — exactly two years removed from his tragic accident on June 4, 2014 — to remember the life he lived and raise scholarship money for young people in south Big Horn County.

The plan for Saturday has been in place for weeks.

“We’re ready to go,” said Brendon’s dad, Mike Laird.

Registration for the memorial ride starts at 9 a.m. at McFadden Ranch. The ride will start at 10 a.m. Unlike last year when it went to the rodeo grounds, it will end at McFadden Ranch.

A dinner and dance will follow at the Greybull Elks Lodge, starting at 5 p.m. The dinner will be a good one, featuring smoked brisket with a baked potato — and Brendon’s favorite, macaroni and cheese. The Rewinders will provide the music for the dance. Tickets are $20 for adults. Kids 14 and under are $10.

Attendees will have an opportunity to bid on live and silent auction items, including: a signed and dated print from Ann Hanson with framing by Dave Mattis, a quilt made by Kathy Ewen, a picnic pack donated by Marquerite Van Dyke, a single shot 410 shotgun, an engraved Henry Silver Boy 22, a giant Jenga game and a cedar coffee table.

All proceeds go towards scholarships for Riverside and Greybull students that are seeking further education in vocational fields.

Mike Laird said he is optimistic that there will be more riders this year. Last year, there were 41 who departed from McFadden Ranch. Approximately 75 are expected this year.   A chuck wagon lunch will be served.

Last year’s event surpassed everyone’s wildest expectations.

The goal going in was to raise $10,000.

By the time all was said and done, $25,000 had been raised.

Laird said he doesn’t have a number in mind this year.

“We figure every little bit helps,” he said. “Even if we only come out $2,000 to $3,000 ahead, we figure we’re giving everybody a night out with a good meal and a band.”

The first year — in what would have been Brendon’s senior year — the family gave seven, $1,000 scholarships. No one from Basin applied, so all seven went to students from Greybull High School. This year, $1,000 scholarships were awarded to a senior at GHS (Tristian McMillan) and a senior at Riverside High School (Nick Schlattmann).

“We hope that we start getting more applications from Basin and Greybull in future years,” said Larid. “We’re hoping that as time goes on, this will keep building and we’ll be able to do bigger and better scholarships. But we don’t know how long it’s going to go. It’s just a huge honor to have these scholarships in our son’s name.

“There are so many people to thank for all this. A lot of people work hard…not just my wife and I…to put this on. They believe in the benefit, how it’s strictly for kids. They believe in us. They also believe in Brendon.”

In death, Brendon provided life because he was an organ donor. Mike said the last he heard, the people who benefited from Brendon’s donations were doing well, with one exception. The recipient of Brendon’s lungs died around Christmas time due to complications from pneumonia. But before he did, he was able to teach his daughter, Brianna, how to ride a bike.

Brianna just happens to be the name of Brendon’s sister.

“I just cannot thank the community enough,” said Laird. “This community…to me and my wife and my daughter, I don’t know how we could have gone through this without them. I’m talking Shell, Basin, Greybull…the whole county. Everyone’s been amazing. We are seeing that again in some of the donations we’ve gotten. Last year there was some phenomenal stuff. This year might just top it.”