Visitors to the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in the last month or so have been treated to event boards adorned with the joyful face of a small, blond girl in full cowgirl gear riding her horse. More than just a cute face, Bailey Rae Stevens is truly a miracle in action and her family is the epitome of giving back.
When little Bailey was born July 8, 2010, her parents Patrick and Marla Stevens were thrilled like all new parents. Their joy soon turned to terror as Bailey developed a bacterial infection in her intestine. Her bowel perforated, requiring emergency surgery. With just two days with their little girl, the Stevens were told not to expect Bailey to survive the surgery.
But as the shining face of the Buckles and Barrels for Bailey (BB4B) event proclaims, hope and faith, along with skilled medical care, can work miracles.
Bailey lost 70% of her small intestine but the little girl kept fighting. After 108 days in the hospital, Bailey finally went home. She hasn't looked back, a healthy, happy little girl who shows no outward signs of trauma that characterized her first months on Earth. (See full story here.)
Her parents vowed to do more than just be grateful; they vowed to take action.
"We felt that if God gives you a gift like this just can't just look up and say thanks and go on," Marla said during the first BB4B in November 2011. "We had to give back."
The Stevens hatched the idea of a barrel race to raise funds for the Las Vegas Spring Valley Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the group responsible for caring for Bailey during her ordeal. The Gaughn family got on board, agreeing to host the event at their South Point Equestrian Center. The first event, held in November of 2011, raised about $18,000 and had over 200 participants per day.
The event was a roaring success, not only in the funds raised for the cause, but in the fun atmosphere provided for the contestants. Many call it their favorite race of the year. Some of Bailey's nurses from Spring Valley usually attend as well. In fact, Bailey and her family recently starred in a television ad for the hospital.
The fourth annual edition of BB4B begins this weekend, Sept. 5-7, 2014. The race starts at 8 a.m. each day and entries are up once again.
The event is free to the public and also available to watch from home via webcast on Horse Sports Network. The webcast is sponsored by Nevada Western Heritage foundation, Jones Feed, Hitchin Post Trailer Sales and Circle J Trailers. Steiner's Pub is sponsoring award jackets.
The Pinto Ranch is hosting an after party on Friday, Sept. 5. Each day features a different theme. Friday is Military/USA appreciation day, Saturday is Wear Red Day in honor of Bailey's birthstone. On Sunday, the theme is Show Us Your Faith with competitors urged to don their cross-adorned clothes and tack.
In addition to the funds raised from entry fees of the barrel racers, the event also features a silent auction and calcutta. (The calcutta proceeds will go to Wounded Wear.) Donations are always appreciated and accepted as well; you can donate using PayPal through the BB4B website.
In three years, BB4B has raised over $29,000. This money has been placed in the Bailey Rae Stevens Scholarship Fund for continuing education costs for the nurses that work in the Las Vegas Spring Valley Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and for renovations to the waiting room and parents room.