Nate lived and worked on a large dairy farm just southwest of Gila Bend, Arizona the summer before his Junior and Senior years of high school. He fell in love with the people, the work, and the ideal of being a cowboy. He abandoned his Quiksilver shirts, Volcom shorts, and Vans skate shoes for pearl snap shirts, big belt buckles, jeans, and cowboy boots. In the final two years of Nate’s life he earned the title of “cowboy” while working the farm alongside his favorite yellow lab, “Fred”. The dash of the Chevy work truck was the perfect place to throw his greasy CLAAS cap. His .243 rifle laid safely behind the seat ready at a moments notice to take down a “yote” or javelina should the opportunity avail itself.
It was on the farm that he honed his core values; hard working, faithful, patriotic, loyal, and trustworthy. It was on the farm that Nate learned that he was capable of being self-reliant. It was on the farm that Nate made the transition from being a boy to becoming a man.
Brett Bybee was Nate’s adopted older brother and cowboy mentor. He and Nate would sit on the couch after a long day working on the farm and watch old westerns like “Lonesome Dove”. The westerns depicted the cowboy values that Nate loved and the values that Brett lived. Brett has the lines of his favorite western,”Conniger”, practically memorized. It’s lines are like scripture to Brett and Nate was learning from the western prophet. One of Brett’s favorites lines is “ride for the brand”.
The farm where Nate worked is owned by Tate and Kathy Accomazzo. Nate loved them like family. Tate has a brand pronounced, “Crazy T Bar Slash”. Nate was proud to be “riding for the Accomazzo brand”. It was pasted on the back window of Nate’s Ford F-250. Brett has a brand. Brett’s father has a brand. It’s a tradition among “real” cowboys to have a brand.
Before Nate died he designed a brand of his own. The brand is a 4 and a D sitting on a rocker. It is pronounced “Rocking 4D” or “Rockin’ Ford”. That brand now symbolizes the values that Nate stood for in his 16 incredible years of life. That brand will forever be etched into the hearts and minds of those that had the opportunity to know and love him. Our hope is that we can carry on his legacy and burn his brand into the hearts and minds of thousands of people that never had a chance to know Nate, but will forever be influenced by his goodness.
Rocking 4D Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) started by Nate’s parents, Doug and Jennifer Ford, to support events like Maricopa March Madness and groups like Mothers of Everyday Heroes that were established for the purpose of carrying on Nate Ford’s legacy. We are proud to be riding for Nate’s brand.