So once upon a time there was this guy named Brent.
|Brent Thurman courtesy of Brentthurman.com|
He was raised in South Austin. He was a great guy that everyone got along with. He could always make you laugh. His friends say he was country through and through,
but hated country music.
He was by all accounts an exceptional brother, son and friend. He was one of 20 founding member of the organization that is now leading the way of the fastest growing sport in the country.
He was an amazingly gifted bull rider. Many of the current generation of bull riders consider him a hero.
Brent's mother said "In my life I have never loved anything, with the exception of my children, the way that Brent loved bull riding."
I never had the chance to meet Brent, although I suspect we may have crossed paths, but this weekend I had the distinct honor of participating in a long sweaty weekend full of smiles and memories honoring him and his dreams.
In Bastrop, Texas somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 people converged to watch a professional bull riding competition.
|Ben Jones (center) & Jason O'Hearn (right) - Bullriders killing time before the event|
It was a great event, some bulls were ridden,
There was talk of buckle bunnies and cougars stalking the cowboys behind the chutes. A lot of beer was consumed, and a fair amount of whiskey depending on who you were hanging out with.
A young junior bull rider's Dad beamed with pride for his son's first buckle win at the same time he confessed his fears for his son's health.
A bull fighter stepped in for the save after one of the junior bull riders was bucked. He paid the price, but was glad to have done it.
Ultimately Robson Aragao won the event
and the home crowd got to see Ben Jones' happy dance in person.
(definitely a spectacle worth seeing - this guy is enthusiastic)
But all of this was the second act.
What was amazing was what happened before.
It is a living, breathing, riding, roping and smiling legacy to a man who had spent his time with special needs children and who had planned to endow proceeds from a bullriding to the organizations that help them with their living needs. They are Brent's Kids and they come each year for their very own Exceptional Rodeo.
The stock contractors, Brent's friends & family, cowboys, bullfighters and their families all turn out to lend a hand and share the life they love and learn as much as they teach.
Many of these Exceptional Cowboys & Cowgirls have been coming for years. Miss Kay, as they call her, calls them by name, encourages them and lets them make announcements over the PA system.
And because they are good athletes when their event is over they stick around for the second act and watch the other bullriders do their thing.
As the night wore on I watched as a rider in his prime celebrate having made the buzzer, come through the gate with a swagger making his way through the crowd when he stopped, doubled back and shook the hand of one of Brent's Kids who was waiting there cheering & celebrating every successful 8 second ride.
I found that I was the odd man out. Everyone I met asked me "How did you know Brent?" I learned pretty quickly that I was one of the only volunteers who hadn't known him in life. It speaks to the quality of that life when 16 years later your high school classmates, second cousins and old neighbors are still showing up to raise money in support others in your name.
This event, these people, this memory that they honor is everything that is right about the way
the world should be and I am better for brushing up against it.
I can't wait for next year, sign me up!