JEFFERSON CITY - A Missouri non-profit organization is raising money for veterans in its own unique way, bull riding.
Larry Oster, a veteran of the National Guard, founded Riding for Veterans in 2014 to help pay for his brother's medical expenses. When his brother, also a retired veteran, passed away later that year, Oster decided to honor his brother in the best way he could think of.
"Everything we do here, it's for him," Oster said. "He meant a tremendous amount to me, to our family, and this is a tremendous way to honor him and all veterans, too."
Riding for Veterans hosted its second bull ride of 2017 Friday, featuring over 30 professional bulls and riders. All proceeds from the event will benefit local veterans organizations. The first ride generated over $5,000 to be donated. Each participating rider sponsors a veteran, who is recognized in front of the crowd before the ride.
"This event just means everything to us," said retired veteran Gregory Scott. "In public, we all don't know each other, but when you get here and everyone learns about one another and connects personally, its different. It's a great feeling to have this kind of support."
The funds go to various local veterans organizations, including the Naught-Naught agency, which assists in education and benefits programs.
"Jefferson City is so great, and the surrounding communities across Missouri are so great about saying 'welcome home, we are proud of you, we are proud of your service, and we want to do everything we can to make your life better,'" Pat Rowe Kerr, the volunteer Executive Director of the non-profit organization When the Yellow Ribbon Fades, said.
"The most rewarding thing for veterans is to help other veterans," Oster said. "That's what drives us. It's what drives me and my wife to be able to help those who need help so much."
As for Oster himself, he said events like this one help him feel his brother's presence.
"I hope he would be very proud," Oster said. "He's here. He's always with us. He's always looking around. That's what keeps us going.""