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A tribute to Andy Bender

> On October 27th the endurance world lost a fellow rider with the passion
> our sport we all possess.  Andy Bender was a great man of endurance.  For
> years he challenged cancer and in those last moments of his life he was
> still in charge.  Andy was a friend to so many of us within the endurance
> world.  I know that there are many special stories about Andy... when you
> met him, those times he crewed for you, those fire side chats those phone
> calls and those un-forgettable multi-day trailer huddles...... we want to
> share our "OT" story with you.
> Andy brainstormed with Crockett about our Outlaw Trail before it ever
> he was so supportive and enthusiastic about its future.  He was obligated
> the International Team so was unable to come our first year of the OT but
> never missed a year since!
> Andy was rider, friend, advisor and mentor to the hundreds of riders who
> have ridden the OT.  In 1993 he was sick, yet determined to ride and when
> rode into Desert Downs at the end of day two I had no idea how close we
> then of loosing him.  Ride meeting was over and lights were out.... Andy
> drug himself to our trailer and if not for Dr. Mike Jepsen MD, a friend
> rider, he would have died.  There was not time to even get to the
> The next day there was Andy at the finish line cheering riders in!  The
> following day he was in his truck hauling water to a remote area of the
> trail where everyone knew they had seen the Good Lord!  Andy had water for
> horses, people and a cooler full of snacks and "spirits"!
> That is the guy Andy was.  If he wasn't riding he was helping out.  Even
> he was riding he was the first to stop and fix a cinch, hold a horse or
> close the gate.
> Andy spent a couple of the most memorial Christmas holidays with us.
> clear from California to watch CD break the Black, OT Sundance to a buggy
> a 2 year old, and again to "do" Santa Fe and Taos in all the lights of the
> rich and famous.  That year he and CD made a video for the Outlaw Trail
> let me tell you.... Ol'Man Bender knew just as much or more about the
> and history than Butch Cassidy!
> Andy planned on the 2000 OT right until the week before.  Jamie Kerr had
> truck and trailer ready to drive Andy, but he was too weak.  We dedicated
> the ride to Andy complete with his annual birthday cake and everyone
> singing.  As we rode out of Escalante in our silent tribute to the "Ghost
> Riders in the sky" a magical sun rise cloud hovered over the riders.....
> everyone saw the running horses as if in flight!  My Dad was making a
> for Andy.  He too captured this moment.
> We called Andy every day of the OT.  Riders called him on cell phones from
> the high mountain trails that he so loved.  Andy sent a congratulations on
> email to everyone for the awards banquet.  There was not a dry eye when
> Sands Dickson read it to us.
> I told Andy I wanted to come visit.  He told me I better hurry.  We shared
> the best of times and he too saw the clouds, the horses, in the video.
> got up every day early so we could visit and eat.  Lord how he loved to
> We told stories, shuffled through pictures and yearbooks, hung mileage
> medallions around his Hall of Fame plaques and favorite ride pictures of
> horses, and laughed until our sides ached.  We fixed gourmet dinners and
> toasted each evening.  When it was time to leave it was a happy time.  We
> hugged and he whispered "give them hell for me"!
> So when you think of all those good times, even difficult times, we share
> with those we love, know or ride with... think of Andy who even at his
> challenging times loved his horses, his trails and how he loved life!
> Crockett called to make sure I had left on time and Ol'Man Bender still
> the energy to give some advice and ask for his ashes to come back to the
> He said he was tired and that it was his time.  He was in peace and he
> his time that evening.
> We will have a "celebration of Andy's life" this coming September on the
> Outlaw Trail.
> Andy, watch over us... ride with us!
> Crockett and Sharon

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