By: Justin Felisko
August 27, 2016
INOLA, Okla. – Ryan Dirteater had a big smile on his face and began clapping his hands as he sat atop his brown team roping horse inside the Riverbend Arena on Friday night.
A few feet away, two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney was popping out of a sleek black limo to the surprise of 14-year-old Juan Salinas.
Salinas had recently overcame a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had a made wish through Make-a-Wish Oklahoma to one day meet Mauney. The young boy originally thought he would be meeting Mauney later this weekend at the Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino, but, to his surprise, Mauney climbed out of the front seat after Salinas had been brought into the arena in the back of the limo.
While Salinas and Mauney posed for photos, Dirteater sat back and looked on from a distance. These were the moments he and his partner Larry Tysver envisioned when they began the planning process to create a team roping event to benefit Make-a-Wish Oklahoma six years ago.
Friday was the third annual Ryan Dirteater Roping For Wishes team roping event. Proceeds went to benefit Make-A-Wish Oklahoma and the Rider Relief Fund.
This year, though, the event kicked off with a special treat with Mauney’s surprise appearance.
“There is a lot of stuff I don’t do publicity wise and things,” Mauney said. “I have been doing it for 11 years, but anytime they call to help somebody out like that, I am all in every single time. Just like those boys in Vegas that had lost their father. Just like this deal. I will do it every time. Those kids mean more than anything.
“Them little kids that just look at you as a role model. When you can help one that has had troubles in their life and things aren’t going very good for them that is what it is all about.”
Salinas was close to speechless after meeting his hero.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Salinas said. “It was so exciting. I couldn’t believe nothing. I am so wordless. It is so amazing. I am glad I got to meet the real man. It was just so exciting when I saw him. It was a pleasure just to shake his hand and hold his hat. To be right next to him, that was a heck of a time right there. That is something I will never forget.
“He told me to keep fighting, I was brave and to never give up. He said I was tougher than him riding any other bull and it was so amazing to hear him say that. I thank him for saying that. I love him for everything he has done. It was just an honor meeting him today.”
Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience. The Oklahoma chapter was founded in 1987 has granted more than 2,300 wishes to eligible Oklahoma children.
“This is the biggest surprise yet this year,” Dirteater said. “It is special. It really is. (J.B.) said yes. No hesitation.”
Last year, Dirteater helped raise $15,000 for Make-a-Wish Oklahoma at his annual event. This year a slew of riders competing at this weekend’s BFTS event at the BOK Center participated in the team roping: Mauney, Silvano Alves, Kaique Pacheco, Cooper Davis, Jess Lockwood, Paulo Lima, Guilherme Marchi, Stetson Lawrence, Mason Lowe, Tyler Harr, Kasey Hayes and Robson Palermo. Retired bull rider Cord McCoy and PBR Exclusive Entertainer Flint Rasmussen also participated in the event.
As of Saturday afternoon, Dirteater said the event raised $23,000. Robson Palermo and Randy Johnson won the team roping.
“We are a bull riding family,” Dirteater said. “There are more bull riders here this year. For them to come here and support this with my name on it, it makes me feel good knowing my buddies will be there supporting this for a good cause.”
Marchi said, “It is a dream for the kids to meet us. What all of the professional riders are doing is so great, making their wishes come true and supporting them.”
Longtime Make-A-Wish volunteer Sandy Blevins said this was by far one of the best wishes she has been a part of.
“It is absolutely awesome,” Blevins said. “I have been doing this for over seven years and I have done over 100 wishes. My husband is a rodeo judge, so we are very involved in the cowboy world. We love being able to be involved with the cowboy world and doing these wishes; and for J.B. to take time out of his schedule, and even come here just to rope, is awesome.”
Blevins has known Dirteater for five years and been a member of the Ryan Dirteater Ropin for Wishes committee all three years. She agreed that it was important to remind everyone that Dirteater has been a big part of Make-a-Wish Oklahoma. Dirteater had gotten the idea to create the roping event for Make-a-Wish Oklahoma after he had met a Make-a-Wish child through Tysver at a local Cavenders.
“There is a lot going on behind the scenes that nobody knows,” Dirteater said. “We planned it and put it on the schedule. There has been a lot of hours going into this event and it has been great. If the bull riders keep coming back and the fans keep coming out we are going to keep doing it.”
Dirteater will have to refocus his attention to the arena on Saturday night when he has a real tough matchup against Pearl Harbor during the 15/15 Bucking Battle (Sunday CBS 1 p.m. ET).
“I am looking forward to that matchup,” Dirteater said. “I have seen J.B. ride him a lot this week.”
Mauney (94.25 points) is the only rider to have successfully reached the 8-second whistle on Pearl Harbor in seven outs this season.
Saturday night will be the second meeting between Dirteater and Pearl Harbor after Dirteater earned a re-ride in Oklahoma City.
“I want to try and get an honest good out on him,” he added. “Last time I got on him, he fouled me in the chute and I got a re ride. I am going to try and not play around in there and take care of business.
Dirteater, currently tied for 11th in the world standings, is returning to competition for the first time since lacerating his lung at the Santa Barbara, California, Touring Pro Division event on Aug. 4.
“My lungs are good,” he said. “I lacerated them just a few weeks ago, but they are good now. I had to take some time off. The reason I didn’t go to Nashville, I still had a little bleeding going on in there.
“I want to be at Tulsa and ride in my home state.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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