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Supporting TeleMiracle Since the 70’s

by Shanine Sealey

Ray Kneeland is a familiar name and face to many residents within Martensville and the surrounding area. For years, Kneeland was the owner/operator of the OK Corral, located just north of Martensville. It was here that countless events were held to help raise money for TeleMiracle. Since the mid 70’s, Kneeland has raised approximately $460,000 for the annual fundraiser through a wide array of fundraisers such as trail rides, rodeos, gymkhanas, raffles and more.

Kneeland currently lives in Saskatoon and had an exciting visit with a familiar face last week. On January 13, Beverley Mahood made the trip to Saskatoon to sit down with Ray and talk about all of his years of contribution to TeleMiracle. Beverley brought a cameraman with her and the interview will be televised on this year’s TeleMiracle, which takes place March 5-6 in Regina. Kneeland’s interview will be shown on Sunday, March 6th around 1pm. Due to COVID, the format of TeleMiracle has changed, so instead of live, on-air presentations, previously recorded interviews will be aired.

For the past 25 years, Mahood has been a key part of TeleMiracle, and during that time, Kneeland and the country music singer/songwriter have formed a close friendship. “She is so down to earth and pleasant to visit with. I have told so many people that over the years and they have said the same thing just by watching her on stage with people. I had the chance to watch her perform at a fundraiser show years ago and it was priceless to watch her interact with the crowd while on stage,” Kneeland said.

It was actually Mahood that helped Kneeland with stage fright when he began making live presentations at TeleMiracle. “When I was younger I didn’t like public speaking because I had such an awful time getting up in front of people to talk. The first time she was on, as we walked on, she turned and said ‘Hello’, and just the way she said it, it mesmerized me and I totally forgot about that crowd. That’s come to help me over the years to learn how to handle talking in front of crowds. That’s just how she is,” Kneeland stated.

In all of the years that Kneeland has been raising money for TeleMiracle, the highest total brought in within one year was an incredible $47,000. Kneeland explained that his passion for the cause came after attending a mini TeleMiracle fundraiser in Martensville. Numerous people shared their stories of how their lives had been changed through TeleMiracle. “After hearing the stories, I just couldn’t resist the urge. There was something so worthwhile to it.”

Kneeland surprised even himself at how successful his fundraising efforts turned out to be, noting that when he was younger, he never thought very highly of himself. “I felt like an underdog as a kid and had that feeling that I wasn’t enough. My dad played a big role in things for me though. He was a dairy farmer and I stayed at home on the farm for 22 years. In those years, I never saw him get mad or run anyone down, so I never grew mean in that way or thinking bad about anything or anyone – except I had a poor opinion of myself. I sort of followed my dads lead and just went about the thinks I needed to do and did it. That’s how I was with TeleMiracle. I came up with ideas, people got on board and it all came together. It was dynamic.”

Although Kneeland was the driving force in the fundraising efforts over the years, he stated that without the help of others, he would not have been near as successful. Through fifteen years of hosting two high school rodeos a year, countless gymkhanas with dine and dances, week-long trail rides, silent auctions, fuel card raffles that raised $10,000 at times, selling chocolate almonds at Agribition in Regina each year and so many more events, Kneeland noted that none of it would have been possible without help from the people in his life supporting his passion for TeleMiracle.

“People used to ask me how I was able to pay for things around my place if I kept giving all of the money away to TeleMiracle, but what started happening was as we were having our events, we started getting people asking us to host weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions and even grad parties. So the cash was coming in then. I was getting paid back,” Kneeland explained.

Additionally, Kneeland added that as he was making upgrades to the event venues at his place, he would have people donate time and material to help with the projects because they heard about the work he did to raise money for TeleMiracle.
Kneeland has seen the benefit that the TeleMiracle organization can have on people first-hand. Following hip surgery approximately two years ago, Kneeland has been in extreme pain, struggling to stand or walk. Over time, Kneeland progressed from a wheelchair to a walker, which TeleMiracle provided financial assistance for. Within the next month or two, Kneeland is anticipating another surgery to help get back to a more comfortable existence.

“That’s why TeleMiracle came to mean so much to me. They help the people in this province that really need the help, whether it is big or small.”

When asked about his favorite TeleMiracle memories over the years, Kneeland gave an answer that you can only expect to hear from a real cowboy. “Well shucks, I so enjoyed it all. I just had a real hayday with all of it.”

After sharing a photo of himself with Beverley Mahood that was taken during their January 13th visit, Kneeland was blown away with the likes and comments the picture received. “So many people had such wonderful things to say. It’s a good thing I don’t wear a cowboy hat anymore because I don’t think I would be able to get it on,” Kneeland joked.

People like Ray Kneeland are rare and we could all take a page out of his book to help do for others rather than ourselves. Kneeland has been an inspiration to many and through his hard work and dedication to TeleMiracle, he has made a difference in so many lives. Be sure to watch the interview with Ray on TeleMiracle on March 6th at approximately 1pm.

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