Cowboy gets back on the horse
In less than eight seconds, Curtis Anderson’s life was changed forever.
On June 26, 2002, Anderson, a 27-year-old bull rider with 10 years experience, lost his balance and was struck in the head by the bull he was mounted on twice during the Ponoka Stampede.
Anderson was rushed to the University of Alberta Hospital where he would spend three weeks in a drug-induced coma.
“I spent three months at the Glenrose Hospital [in Edmonton], where I learned how to walk again, and how to talk again,” said Anderson. “I started all over again in every aspect.”
Anderson required the assistance of two nurses to get out of bed each morning and a wheelchair to get around.
Over time, Anderson began to walk on his own again.
Following those three months, Anderson spent 8 months at the Halvar Jonson Centre for Brain Injuries in Ponoka where he learned to swim again, first with a life jacket and a lifeguard to eventually swimming independently.
“When you think you are in bad shape,” writes Anderson on his website, “have a walk around a Brain Injury Centre and see happy survivors and how proud they are of themselves.”
“In the fall of 2010 I regained my driver’s license,” said Anderson.
Today, Anderson has made a significant recovery, and speaks at six bull riding events and a few rodeos each year about his journey and recovery.
“I watch the event, and judge each ride to see how close I am to what the judges think it should be,” said Anderson. “I’m still involved in the event just in a different capacity.”
While Anderson no longer competes, he hasn’t given up the cowboy lifestyle.
For the past decade, Anderson and his family have lead the Courage Canada Trail Ride on the last Saturday in May to raise awareness for brain injuries. It also allows survivors a chance to spend time around horses and visit with other survivors.
Over the past nine years the ride has raised over $100,000 for the society. The ride supports LABIS in Lloydminster, VALID in Vegreville, and FOCUS in Vermilion, as well as the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team.
This year, the 10-mile ride will take place on May 31, starting one mile north of Minburn on Range Road 102, and 1.5 miles west on Township Road 504.
Admission to the ride is $25 (kids 10 and under are free) and Anderson advises bringing a bag lunch for dinner and water.
Live music will be provided by recording artist, Eli Barsi, and Jackie Rae Greening of 790 CFCW will be in attendance.
Tickets are available at Craig’s and UFA.