From the tender age of 6 when he saw his first live horse Jerry Cunningham knew he wanted to have horses of his own-to be a cowboy-and that dream became real in 1989 when he got the ranch that is now his home with partner JC McDonald.
That first ride was fleeting but Jerry has been happily riding along ever since.
A Colorado native from Wheat Ridge and Arvada, he came into contact with rodeo as a volunteer at the infamous Regis Inn parking lot rodeo of '88. Working security he didn't see much but he was hooked. HOOKED!
Jerry became the poster child for rodeo, progressing - as so many cowboys and cowgirls do - from putting underwear on a goat, tying a ribbon on a steer, getting a little dirty, gaining a little courage, a split second in a dress on the back of a steer, all the way to covering his first steer in '91 in Texas, and then on to becoming an experienced bull rider.
But nine years of competition were enough. It was David Pizzuti and Clarence Bates who introduced Jerry to the world of the Rodeo Clown and Bull Fighter. After shadowing David for two years he finally went solo, and experience Jerry likens to jumping into a blender. The bandanas on his britches became part of his costume when Treva London tied a few on just before a Grand Entry and his signature blue star/red star face of 18 years came about in the back of a Cadillac with David Hill on the way to Omaha for a rodeo.
In all that time Jerry has witnessed a cool process as the standard of competition has continually improved to the point he believes IGRA competitors can go head to head with any amateur rodeo. For Jerry, gay rodeo is a rodeo long before it's a gay rodeo.
Jerry's personal and professional life has taken a few surprising turns along the way. Whether unexpectedly losing his job and finding himself mopping floors at Charlie's or leaping at the opportunity of a lifetime to help the Community find its voice as publisher of Out Front, his connection to rodeo has kept him grounded with fundamental values and given him a life.
After his partner JC and his natural family, Jerry claims the Community as his family. Learning of his selection as Grand Marshal, Jerry's first thoughts were of being honored, grateful, humbled, and wanting to put others first, followed quickly by a ling and every growing list of friends, mentors, and companions with names like John Nelms, Wayne Jakino, Tommy Channel, Patrick Terry, Rick Worthington, Doug Graff, and countless others. Thanks to them, Jerry is at an amazing place in life and says he's living "a Dream I never knew I had come true."
Congratulations to Jerry Cunninham, cowboy, rancher, bull rider, clown, philanthropist, entrepreneur, advocate, facilitator, community leader, and CGRA's Grand Marshal of Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo 31!