Professional basketball used to have the slogan, “NBA action is fantastic.”
The reality is that no other sport is more FAN-tastic than rodeo, because most of the cowboys and cowgirls who make their living on the rodeo trail understand the common man; they know how much much hard work goes in to paying for those seats, and they want everyone to enjoy the show they’re putting on.
I was reminded of this upon my return from Oklahoma City and working the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo. An envelope from Colorado contained a beautiful picture colored by and autographed by Cade Hemphill, a young man I have yet to meet, the 4-year-old son of friends Karla and Kevin Hemphill; it also had photos of Cade and his cowboy heroes, Chet Johnson, Chad Ferley and Cort Scheer and a “Thank You” note from Cade’s parents.
In January 2011, I set up the meeting between Chet and the Hemphills because I knew young rodeo fan Cade would easily become a lifelong rodeo fan with a little urging. Chet brought along a couple of buddies, and they all shared their passion and smiles with the young cowboy-to-be.
Chet and the Hemphills met again this past January at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, and I suspect that as long as the Wyoming cowboy returns to Denver to compete, that relationship will continue.
The Hemphills wrote of how Chet has become more than a rodeo hero; he’s a family friend. While they may feel as though they found something special, I know for a fact Chet Johnson feels the same way.
That’s just FAN-tastic.