Georgia and Bob Cairns.
You don’t have to spend long with Bob and Georgia Cairns to see the twinkle in their eyes when they talk about what the Stampede and the Stampede Foundation has brought to their lives.
For Bob, his connection to the Stampede runs deep, beginning in 1971 when the late Ken Moore, former Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench and past President & Chairman of the Board of the Calgary Stampede approached him to become involved.
“He asked me to sit on the Special Projects committee, a committee which he oversaw. We actually ran an art contest, not unlike the poster competition that is currently underway now,” said Cairns. “The contest was for Calgary and area school students, and Steve Allan and I were trustees. Out of that contest evolved ‘Stampede Slim’, a Stampede mascot in the 80s and 90s.”
Bob then took on more progressive leadership roles as a volunteer with three other committees and was elected to the Board of Directors in 1989, later becoming one of the founding directors of the Calgary Stampede Foundation.
“The first few years of the Foundation were challenging and we relied on the support of donations from the (then) 1,500 volunteers. It wasn’t until the late 90s that the foundation received its first large donation from the Nat Christie Foundation,” shares Cairns.
For the Cairns, the Stampede has been a family affair, with all three of their children volunteering their time for a variety of committees and some of their grand kids working during the 10 days.
“We’ve all been involved over the years. Georgia supported my involvement, but didn’t begin volunteering until after I became a Director and we began hosting during Stampede time in the Brand Room,” adds Cairns.
For Georgia her involvement in the community runs deep, she was a motivational trainer for many years, running her own consulting business, Peak Performance Training. She was also appointed by the United Nations to help run elections overseas in Cambodia, after successfully helping run four federal elections in Canada.
“It was an honour to help a developing country and encourage people to vote so their voices could be heard,” she says.
“We’ve been extremely fortunate in the life we’ve lived,” says Cairns. “We’ve tried to make a difference and one of the ways we continue to give back to this day is through the Calgary Stampede Foundation. It’s a worthwhile organization that not only invests in youth, but gives them the tools and the time to grow into the leaders of tomorrow. After all, they are the future.”
As longtime donors, the Cairns actively choose to support the Calgary Stampede Foundation’s youth education programs; these unique programs take education beyond the classroom, teaching students about agriculture, western heritage and tying it all back to what they’re learning in the classroom.
“It’s incredible to see the learning that is happening with Stampede’s youth programs and now with the gift of the OH Ranch, young people are able to learn about a working ranch and visit one,” he adds. “It’s an organization we are passionate about and one that we will continue to support forever.”