Mary Jo and Jim Milner received the 2017 Modine Smith Humanitarian Award at the NCHA Futurity. • Hart Photos.

Texas Cutters Exemplify Spirit Of Modine Smith Humanitarian Award

Jim and Mary Jo Milner were recognized with the Modine Smith Humanitarian Award in honor of their contributions to the sport of cutting.

The Southlake, Texas, cutters were presented the award during the 2017 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas.

The award recognizes those who display unwavering support of the NCHA and the NCHA Foundation by continuously working to enhance the association’s past and present. NCHA President Lewis Wray said Jim and Mary Jo epitomize the philosophy of, “It’s not what NCHA can do for you, it’s what you do for NCHA.”

“They’ve served on many, many boards, Jim’s been the president of NCHA, they’ve been very active in the youth organizations and the Foundation’s organization,” Wray said. “They’ve covered every facet for the NCHA for quite a few decades, and with that in mind, and their dedication to the sport of cutting is one of the major reasons they received the Modine Smith award.”

The award’s namesake, Modine Smith, was an avid supporter of cutting throughout the country, but especially on the West Coast. She remained dedicated to cutting up until her passing in July 2017 at age 94.

Jim, who along with Mary Jo was friends with Smith, said he was touched to receive an award in her honor. He figures they first met in 1975 at a cutting event at Smith’s facility in Escalon, California.

“There were so many people equally as deserving that I’m so honored,” he said.

In addition to their support of the NCHA’s governance and charitable endeavors, Jim and Mary Jo are accomplished exhibitors. Jim recorded his first cutting check in Equi-Stat aboard Devil Straw in the 1974 NCHA Futurity and has since earned $1,338,542.

Mary Jo’s first entry on her Equi-Stat record was aboard Docs Toddy in the 1980 NCHA Futurity. She has lifetime earnings of $2,659,627.

Wray said people who enjoy and support the Western lifestyle and cutting, like Jim and Mary Jo have, are very meaningful to the sport of cutting.

“They’ve been very, very embedded in the National Cutting Horse Association for many, many years,” he said.

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