PUEBLO, Colo. – Alex Cardozo is not only a bull rider, but a man of faith, and it is hard to miss the name Jesus printed on his black riding helmet.
During this past Built Ford Tough World Finals, Cardozo is pretty sure faith was on his side during a dangerous bull riding wreck that resulted in a broken neck (C6-7) and back (T5).
“I don’t like how my season ended, but God has a plan for me and I’m so blessed that God had his hand on me when it happened,” Cardozo wrote in a message to PBR.com. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Cardozo met with a spine specialist he was referred to by Dr. Tandy Freeman last week for a follow-up appointment to review his recovery after sustaining the injuries after being thrown from Fire House in 3.4 seconds during Round 3 of the World Finals.
At the time of the injury, Cardozo was boarded out of the Thomas & Mack Center and transported to University Hospital Trauma Center for evaluation.
“I feel better,” Cardozo said. “I saw the doctor last week and he said that I have to wear my neck brace for three months and it will take one month to get strong again to ride, so in four months I can ride again.”
It was a disappointing end of 2015 for Cardozo, who was finally beginning to put together qualified rides on the Built Ford Tough Series.
The rookie had to battle to earn his first World Finals qualification and was able to come through when it mattered most.
Cardozo went 3-for-6 in the final two regular-season BFTS events after previously going 1-for-28 in his career.
Even luckier for Cardozo was the fact he wasn’t even supposed to compete at the Allentown Invitational, where he went 2-for-3 to earn a season-defining 200 points toward the world standings, until a last minute withdrawal by Robson Palermo.
The door was then open for the 25-year-old from Indaiatuba, Brazil, to make a close-to-last-minute push to the Finals.
“Yes, I am very happy that I made the Finals because it is every rider’s dreams to make the PBR World Finals,” Cardozo said. “I’m not really happy with how my season went because I know I could have done better.”
He wasn’t able to record a qualified ride in three attempts at the Finals, but Cardozo was proud to finish his first season on the BFTS 34th in the world standings.
The finish is important as Cardozo is guaranteed five BFTS events whenever he is medically cleared to return to competition.
“I remember everything from the accident,” Cardozo added. “I never went unconscious at all. I have a lot of experience with accidents. I think I broke 16 bones and have had six surgeries, but when I broke my neck, I really felt like I broke it and for the first 30 seconds it was hard to breathe.
“I know that everything is going to be OK now because I can feel it is better.”
According to Cardozo, he isn’t exactly sure what event he is going to return for, but some events that fall four months from now include the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 18-20 or maybe even the First Premier Bank/Premier Bankcard Invitational in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on April 2-3.
Cardozo says he will first go to a few Touring Pro Division events before using his five BFTS exemptions.
“I will start riding in the Touring Pros so I don’t lose my chances in the BFTS,” he said. “When I have the confidence again, (I will) ride in the BFTS. Then I will try to make the Finals again and finish the year in a good position in the standings.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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