Mutton buster helps raise money for charity

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At 6 years old, Zaylon Zamora is a small package but he has a huge heart.

A professional mutton buster with dreams of becoming a bull rider, Zamora donated his most recent first place cash winnings to Pennies for Patients, a Leukemia Lymphoma Society fundraiser hosted at Tomé Elementary School.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Zaylon Zamora, 6, stands with a few of the family sheep, including Ramsey, his practice sheep. Zaylon is one of the top 10 rodeo mutton busters in the world. He recently donated his first-place winnings to Pennies for Patients, a Leukemia Lymphoma Society fundraiser at his school in Tomé.

The fundraising drive was conducted throughout the month of April, and students were given little boxes to collect spare change from their parents, family members and friends to donate to Pennies for Patients.

Zamora donated a grand total of $70 to the cause, $60 from his rodeo cash prize, plus $10 from his savings.

“It was all his doing ― he pulled dollars from his piggy bank to put in his box,” said his mother, Victoria Zamora. “It was all his choice.”

Before the family went to the rodeo, the young rough rider told his mother that if he won any money, he was going to put it in that box.

“I wanted to help people that are sick more than just buying toys for myself and playing with them,” Zamora said.

Even when his mother told him he didn’t have to put all his money in the box because they had all month to gather change, the young philanthropist was persistent.

“He said, ‘Mom, I’m a little kid, I don’t need to be rich. These kids don’t have everything they need — they need help,’” Victoria said. “He put me in my place.”

The class collecting the most change for the Pennies for Patients campaign receives a pizza party. Prizes, such as computers, electronics and sports equipment, are presented to the top schools in each area, but what motivates Zamora is his big heart.

He was awarded a gold slip for citizenship and caring from his first-grade teacher, Ashley Zupco.

The family also participates in Relay for Life, and Victoria is on the committee. She is the survivor chairman, and like so many families, they have also been touched by cancer. Fortunately, all are survivors, Victoria said.

Mutton busting is a rodeo event similar to bull riding or bronc riding, where young children ride or race sheep.

Although rodeo doesn’t run in the Zamora family, the boy’s father, Marcos Zamora, rode bulls when he was in high school.

Marcos taught his son how to ride sheep when he was 3 years old, Zamora said.

“I like riding and winning buckles,” said Zamora, whose favorite professional bull rider is J. B. Mauney.

He wears chaps, a vest and a helmet when he rides, he said.

You have a free hand for balance when you ride, but if you touch something, you won’t get a score, he explained. The other hand holds the rope you hang on with.

It isn’t easy, especially when a sheep or ram has a lot of wool, he said.

“The wool shakes,” Zamora said.

In the past year or so, Zamora has won a dozen buckles, and his mother said he has been on a winning streak for the past two years.

Last year, at the 2013 Youth Bull Riders World Finals in Abilene, Texas, Zamora had one of the top 10 highest scores out of 50 mutton busters from around the world. He won a huge belt buckle and about $200.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.