Joel Reichenberger: Powers gives it up for troops

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

Rob Powers is hard to miss when he's on the job.

He was the man behind the microphone Saturday during the annual Fourth of July Parade. The event seemed to feature virtually anything that could walk, drive or roll down Lincoln Avenue. There were dozens of horses, a bunch of fancy cars, children with water guns and even a woman with a camel.

Whether it was llamas, roller skiers, donkeys or elephants (the Democratic Party fielded one float, and the area's conservatives drummed up several), Powers welcomed them to Steamboat's largest stage with the same enthusiasm, bellowing his greetings up and down the town's main street.

Still, Powers always held something back, something that he poured on whenever there was a chance to salute America's military forces.

Powers was the brain behind the Ridn4Warriors junior bull-riding event that opened the weekend's rodeo performances.

It included bull riding, one of the rodeo's most popular and thrilling events. It included young riders - think calf scramble on steroids. And it included the troops.

There were six riders each night, and each was assigned a branch of the military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Veterans Affairs. But the teenage daredevils didn't just ride for their respective branches. Before the competition started, each stood in the ring and read the story of a serviceman from that branch who was killed or injured in battle.

The rodeo is a patriotic event anyway, so parading a bunch of junior bull riders across the ring to represent the country's fighting men is already icing on the cake. The tribute to specific soldiers was even better.

But when it comes to the troops, that's how Rob Powers does business.

"He's a very energetic guy," rodeo announcer John Shipley said. "He produced this whole thing."

Of course, Powers' commitment didn't end Saturday as the rodeo lights dimmed.

Powers is getting ready to board a plane tomorrow for a trip to Iraq.

Powers, a veteran himself, will travel with astronaut Sandra Magnus, Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter and Runner's World Chief Running Officer Bart Yasso to tour seven Middle East bases where U.S. military forces are stationed.

Talk to Powers for a few minutes, and his decision to travel to Iraq comes as little surprise. The guy has traveled the world and been the man behind the microphone for some for some of the largest marathons. But it's easy to tell how important his work helping draw attention to the troops is to him.

The Ridn4Warriors tribute didn't try to solicit donations or ram politics down anyone's through.

Powers doesn't work like that. He's just a man with a spotlight who is willing to do anything he can to shine it on those risking their lives for our country.

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