Harold Courson knows that a young person cannot pull his or herself up by the bootstraps if they don’t have any boots. That’s why he generously continues to support a concept at Boys Ranch that was started by Western television icon Roy Rogers in 1953.
Courson, a longtime supporter, former board member and committed donor to Boys Ranch, makes sure every graduating senior leaves with a top-notch pair of Boys Ranch-branded cowboy boots.
Back in 1953, Rogers, the ‘king of the cowboys,’ gave every boy on the ranch a pair of custom-made cowboy boots. He repeated the gesture each Christmas for a few years.
For a period of time, this special tradition was broken. Decades later, Courson stepped up, making provisions for every graduating senior to leave Boys Ranch with a pair of new boots.
Boys Ranch graduates are given the option to order a pair of hand-made, custom boots from Western Leather Craft & Ross Boot Company in Amarillo, Texas. Owner Bob Ross personally takes detailed measurements of each participating senior’s feet in February, inviting each young man and woman to choose a specific type of leather, toe and heel style. He and his staff work diligently to get all of the boots done by the middle of May.
On the Thursday night before graduation, the participating seniors gather for a picnic with alumni and are presented with their boots. The group comes wildly alive as they unwrap the leather beauties and try them on.
The special gifts, black boots with 14-inch blue tops bearing the BR insignia and year of graduation in stylish gold letters, are truly celebrated!
“This is just like Christmas all over again!” shouted Sara as she pulled her boots from the white bag in which they came.
“Oh wow, these are awesome!” said Austin as he contemplated trying on his pair. “Man, I’ve never had a pair of boots this nice, or this tall,” he shared.
Well-made boots have a way of making a person stand taller and walk prouder. As these young people pull them on, they know the bootstraps are strong. These boots will last for many years to come and always be a reminder of the love, support, confidence and skills each graduate learned while at Boys Ranch. Some vow to only wear them on special occasions.
Some plan to also sit them on a shelf at their home, a constant reminder of where they’ve been and where they’re going. After all, that’s what counts.
“One of the things that motivated me all those years ago was what Roy Rogers started,” said Courson. “That really motivated me. Every kid needs a pair of hand-made boots!”