'Celebrities For A Cause' Charity Weekend Event Benefits Special Olympics | Big Horn Basin Media

‘Celebrities For A Cause’ Charity Weekend Event Benefits Special Olympics

Written by on August 1, 2023

For the past three years, Ryan Brown makes numerous phone calls across the country to current and former professional athletes as well as celebrities.  His message is simple and to the point: Come to Cody, Wyoming, right next to Yellowstone National Park, spend some time with the locals, put on some kid’s clinics, play some ball, enjoy some golf, and attend a banquet.  All for a charitable organization that is different each year.

The event, created and run by Brown is called Celebrities For A Cause.  It was started by Ryan as a lark, a “wouldn’t it be cool if we could…” idea that he embarked on creating and realizing three years ago while working at the Cody Rec Center.

Celebrities for a Cause was also a way to combine his passions: supporting charities and being around guys who played in the biggest, most intense spotlight you could image: Professional athletes.

Ryan won’t divulge his secret for getting in touch with the ex-jocks, but one thing is for sure.  When he calls, they overwhelmingly respond.

And they do come.  NBA, MLB, and NFL veterans come from all over the country to our neck of the woods because they want to support that year’s charity.  This year, Celebrities For A Cause came to support Special Olympics Wyoming.  The weather was perfect, the former athletes were generous with their time, and people from all over Park County came to see and maybe get a picture and a hand-shake from these former pros.

Former MLB baseball player John Rocker, who played for the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, and the Tampa Bay Rays says coming to Cody to support the program is a no-brainer. “Great program, great guys out here. Ryan Brown does a heck of a job putting everything together.” Rocker adds that he likes being part of the effort to raise money for our community and loves Cody because, “the air is so clean and crisp,” and of course, coming from Florida, the former pitcher really appreciates the cooler weather.

Kicking off the jam-packed schedule of events was a movie night on Wednesday, June 28 at Bighorn Cinemas. The theater showed Vision Quest, with one of its stars, Frank Jasper, in attendance for the movie. After the credits, Jasper held a meet and greet where he answered any questions people had about the movie.

Current National Football League player Sidney Jones says he supports Celebrities For A Cause because, “it’s always good to give back [to the community] and support [Celebrities for a Cause]. I’ve been meaning to get out to Cody for the past few years…this time it worked so I am just grateful to give back.” The Cincinnati Bengals Cornerback’s experience in Cody has been nothing but positive as he echoes many of the former players’ opinions of the town. “Great views, the [Olive Glenn Golf Course] is amazing.”

Nathaniel “Coyote” Peterson is an American YouTuber, wildlife educator, and host of Animal Planet’s series Coyote Peterson: Brave the Wild. He is best known for his YouTube channel Brave Wilderness, which focuses on documenting and educating about animals.  He was approached by Ryan and came out to Cody to play in the celebrity softball game for the inaugural launch of Celebrities for a Cause and is very familiar with Cody.  “I love Cody, Wyoming. Been [to Wyoming] multiple times to film content for Brave Wildness down in Thermopolis.  So I am always excited to come and participate every year.”

But getting to Cody to help raise money for Special Olympics Park County and Special Olympics Wyoming proved to be a long, arduous journey. It wasn’t easy. But after a persistent fight with the struggling airlines, and six different flights, Coyote finally made it to Cody from Columbus, Ohio to support Celebrities for a Cause. Even after eighteen hours of traveling in one day, Peterson was in high spirits.

“I love visiting Cody,” Peterson declared the day after he arrived. “It’s one of my favorite places in the world.”

Peterson held a youth basketball tournament called “Brave the Court,” named after his popular YouTube series, “Brave the Wild.” The tournament featured high school students playing each other one-on-one through a bracket, until there was a champion. The winner of the tournament then advanced to play Coyote Peterson in a best-out-of-three. 

“We had a bunch of local kids in high school come out and compete in a basketball game to win a pair of Nike athletic shoes.” Taking on Coyote in a basketball game is no small feat, he says. There are some really incredible basketball players who participated and Coyote held his own, but ultimately, “one contestant took home a pair of Air Jordans and Air Pennys” as the grand prize.

Later in the day, singers Bobby Chitwood and Jonah Prill performed live at the Olive Glenn Golf Course.  There was a beer garden, not to mention gun raffle tickets and celebrity basketball game tickets. 

The weekend ended with the celebrity basketball game was held at Trapper Arena on the campus of Northwest College, consisting of current players from the University of Wyoming against celebrity athletes.

In all, Celebrities For A Cause raised over $33,000 dollars that was presented to Specials Olympics Wyoming.

“Being a part of Celebrities For A Cause is an honor,” Peterson commented with a wide grin and twinkle in his eye.  He’ll be sure to come back next year. 

Next year’s event is scheduled for August 16th and 17th.  To purchase ticket and see the events schedule click here.



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