GUTHRIE, Okla. (KFOR) – Heavy rain is bringing some relief to much of drought-stricken Australia as the country is ravaged by massive and deadly wildfires. Now two Australia natives who are making Guthrie their home for the next few days are doing what they can to help the country they grew up in.
Adam Hinkley and Ty Parkinson are bull riders competing in the International Finals Rodeo at Guthrie's Lazy-E Arena Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The native Australians are trying to stay focused on winning international titles while their home country is burning.
"It's just terrible what's happening," Hinkley said. "The animals, and the families that are affected – people losing their homes – you just can't, it blows you away."
One of the fires came dangerously close to Ty Parkinson's home.
"There was one fire they said that they had to let it go, just that it was so big and too dangerous to try and fight it," Parkinson said. "There was no stopping it."
Nearly 30 people have been killed and millions of wild animals are dead so far, including a third of the koalas in New South Wales.
"Their security is the top of the trees," said Parkinson's mother Dianne. "So if something happens that is a threat to them, they go to the trees, and of course that's where the fires go."
So this weekend, the two competitors along with the International Pro Rodeo Association will be collecting donations during the competition for New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue, and Education Sercvice Inc. Contestants from the Miss Rodeo USA Competition will be sending boots through the audience to collect donations.
"Just get everything back and repopulated in the right time and the right place," Parkinson said. "It’s going to be slow and steady, but once it’s repopulated it will be Australia again."
The International Finals Rodeo begins Friday at 7 p.m. and continues Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.