Two Sisters Exemplify the Celebrate America Ideal

The Owen sisters both attend college in Oklahoma with help from scholarships from Folds of Honor. Photo: The Owen family


  • Kylie and Kayci Owen were honored Saturday night in Tulsa as part of the PBR's Celebrate American initiative.
  • The sisters, who lost their father in Afghanistan, were also recipients of scholarships from Folds of Honor.
  • The pair have become huge PBR fans, and the celebration helped them remember their father fondly.

In This Article

TULSA, Okla. – Kylie Owen already had her family’s tickets for PBR in Tulsa when Folds of Honor called with unexpected news. 

The PBR wanted to host Kylie and her sister at the Built Ford Tough Series event.

More than that, they wanted the sisters to come down to the dirt for a special presentation last night at the BOK Center.

The plan was for the senior at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and her sister, Kayci, who’ll attend the University of Oklahoma this fall, to participate in PBR’s Celebrate America in the memory of their dad, who had been killed in action in Afghanistan. They would also be recognized along with Folds of Honor, an organization which provides educational scholarships to the spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members.

The young women were surprised and thrilled. The fact that they love PBR made a poignant night more special.

Kylie, 21, and Kayci, 18, were first introduced to PBR a few years ago by a serviceman who was in the truck with their father when insurgents attacked his combat unit with an improvised explosive device.

Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Kirk Owen was 37 when he died on August 2, 2011.  He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery.

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After his recovery, SSG Owen’s Guardsman brother invited the Owen sisters to a steak dinner and a night of bull riding in Tulsa.

That night, J.B. Mauney conquered Bushwacker, a moment that lives on in PBR lore. The sisters were sold on PBR after that, and they have attend their hometown event each year, as well as Ryan Dirteater’s roping event. Last year, they gave Dirteater and Mauney special memorial bracelets with SSG Owen’s name, birthday and the coordinates where he was killed.

“The gratitude we feel is hard to put into words,” Kylie said. “We didn’t do anything special to get these cool opportunities.  Sometimes, we feel we don’t deserve it. But we know our dad would want us to experience life and these things people are giving us. We humbly accept the gifts.”

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The loss of their father’s life is a tragedy these two strong young women carry with them every day.

Yet through Folds of Honor, some good can come from the unspeakable loss.

“Folds of Honor is helping make our dreams come true by giving us this opportunity to go to school,” Kayci said.

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Kayci will be studying Anthropology and Archeology. Kylie is concentrating on Nutritional Sciences and Health Education.

“My dad and I played basketball together, and that’s one of the things that stoked my interest in fitness,” Kylie said. “He was 220 pounds and then got down to 160 after basic training. And then, in his first tour in Iraq, he worked out a lot and gained 40 pounds of muscle. We called him Iron Man. He was jacked.”

What the sisters remember most about their dad, though, is his smile.

The sisters felt their father’s smile last night when the PA announcer asked fans to take a moment to reflect on the life of an American hero who sacrificed all and continued to inspire two young ladies studying hard for University degrees and their next steps on the road to success.

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