It is not lost upon Kody Lostroh that he has had a fortunate career.
Yes, he won a world title in 2009 and since making his Built Ford Tough Series debut, in 2005, when he was named the PBR Rookie of the Year, he’s won 10 events and accumulated career earnings of nearly $3.4 million, which is eighth on the list of all-time money earners.
It’s a career that all but the seven riders ahead of him dream about.
However, success and accomplishments are not what makes this 29-year-old fortunate.
Professional bull riding is the most dangerous sport in the world. It’s not a matter of if, but when and how bad a rider is eventually going to be hurt.
And Lostroh’s career hasn’t exactly played out injury-free.
In fact, just last week, he was unable to finish the season-opening event in Baltimore, Maryland, because of an injury to his left foot sustained in Round 1.
“Fortunately I’ve never had to use the Rider Relief Fund,” Lostroh said, “and I’d like to keep it that way, but I sure think it’s a really outstanding program and I’m glad that people see it the same way.”
The RRF was initially founded in 1998.
According to its website – www.riderrelief.org – its mission is to provide financial assistance to the human athletes – both riders and bullfighters – injured in the sport of bull riding. The RRF supports athletes at all levels of competition and from all organizations.
Justin Koon has missed more than a year of competition and was quoted as saying, “I’ve been scared to let myself heal for years now and I’m finally getting the chance.”
Koon said he’s certain other riders have avoided taking the necessary time off because of a fear of complicated paperwork, but was surprised at how simple the process actually was.
“The Rider Relief Fund has relieved tremendous pressure,” Koon added.
“They came through for me with my arm injury when I needed it most,” said Cody Campbell, regarding the significant time he missed a couple years ago. “It is very much appreciated.”
The PBR and those involved have done a lot of work raising money for various charities – and rightfully so – but none is more directly beneficial to the sport than the RRF.
The non-profit came about in November 1998 after Jerome Davis was severely injured following a fall from Knock’em Out John that left him wheelchair-bound. According to the RRF, the outpouring of concern led to the establishment of the RRF.
“For a guy who rides bulls for a living,” Davis said, “there’s no back-up plan.”
Riders who are unable to compete are also unable to make a living. The RRF temporarily helps to alleviate the financial burden for a rider and his family, while he takes the time to heal and rehab from any number of injuries – Mike Lee was helped following brain surgery, while Pistol Robinson recently received help after sustaining two broken legs – or, in Davis’ case, the transition to life after bull riding.
Like any good cause, Lostroh said it’s about raising awareness.
He and other riders as well as the bullfighters often donate gear, shirts and other uniforms to be used as auction items as well as regularly taking part in autograph signings on the concourse and other events along with other ways Lostroh and others can help raise money.
“I try to do what I can,” Lostroh said, “but there are people that are a lot more involved than me. Any chance I get to contribute – whether that’s donating items to an auction or helping out with a hunt or helping out with the fundraisers that they do – I always try to do my best to get involved.”
With the generosity of Mike and Cheri Cappello, who donated the use of their Colorado ranch, and a hunting skillset of both Lostroh and Shorty Gorham, they auctioned off a mountain lion hunt at the 2013 World Finals.
Lostroh and Gorham would serve as guides.
“You get to see another side of somebody,” Lostroh said.
It was an opportunity to get to know the guys on a personal level in an environment away from the PBR and in a situation they have as much a passion for as bull riding.
More importantly, it was about raising money for a good cause.
“Unique stuff is what people like and I thought that was a really unique,” Lostroh said. “People auction off hunts all the time, but when you get to go with the people you watch on TV all the time, I thought that was a pretty unique opportunity.”
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