By: Justin Felisko
February 25, 2017
ST. LOUIS – A year and a half ago, Mason Lowe packed up his gear bag inside Bridgestone Arena and quickly hustled to his truck following the 2015 Music City Knockout.
Lowe could care less about his 15th-place finish at the time. Instead, the Exeter, Missouri, cowboy was more focused his 3-hour drive to Memphis, Tennessee, so he could be with his 6-year-old niece, Blazi, who was scheduled to undergo multiple surgeries to remove a brain tumor the next day at 8:30 a.m.
The now 23-year-old got there by 6 a.m., and he was able to spend precious time with his niece.
Blazi has since been cancer free following a long recovery process.
“It was a tough deal to swallow,” Lowe said prior to tying for the Round 1 victory Friday night in St. Louis. “My head wasn’t really into (bull riding) and all. It is a big deal to take on, but since she has been doing better I am less worried. They got it all out and her tests and everything have been real good.”
In recent weeks, Lowe has been carving time out of his PBR PR schedule in Missouri to visit with children suffering from various illnesses.
Lowe visited with a group of kids and families at Mercy Children’s Hospital – one of the hospitals Blazi stayed at during her recovery process – Friday morning in St. Louis before he rode Canadian Fastlane for 87.25 points.
“Even before Blazi, I would have done this,” Lowe said. “Just talking to them is important. Most of them just see their parents every day and their friends from inside there. Most of them can’t get out of bed. Just walking in there and seeing them smile is great. One didn’t even know what to say because they never saw a cowboy before. I just enjoy doing it.
“Their lives mean everything to me, and I don’t know them. Hopefully they overcome what they have.”
Three weeks earlier, Lowe visited with patients at the University of Kansas Hospital before the Kansas City Invitational.
Lowe made it a priority to stay with the kids he was visiting beyond his allotted time because he could tell it meant the world to them.
“It is important that these kids have something to look forward to,” Lowe said. “They were having fun, so I stayed. There was no question I was staying.”
Fellow Missouri native Brady Sims accompanied Lowe on the visit to Mercy and said he can tell the hospital visits hit close to home for Lowe.
“It is definitely not an easy thing at all,” Sims said. “Whenever you go in there, and you see the kids that are sick and hurting and in pain, we try and put a smile on their faces. It is one of those things that warms your heart even though it is real hard for you take it all in. With Mason and his niece, you can definitely tell he took extra time to make sure that all the kids had a smile on their face before he did leave.
“You can definitely tell he has a sweet side to him when he goes in there.”
Lowe remembers the fear and uneasiness he, his sister, Kayla, and the rest of their family had during Blazi’s battle with cancer.
He relates to how hard it can be for families to stay upbeat when the future of their child is uncertain and they are in the hospital.
“Some of those kids, it puts a knot in your stomach because you don’t know what they are going through and you went through it with your family,” Lowe said. “Parents try to keep them upbeat and keep their mind off it, but when it all comes back to it, they still have it and you hope they overcome it.”
Blazi overcame her battle, and Lowe cherishes the limited time he gets to spend with her when he isn’t traveling across the United States and competing on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Lowe will sometimes meet Blazi at school for lunch when he visits, but she also is the one often putting a smile on his face.
“We are really close,” Lowe said, before chuckling. “I have some cows and stuff and she names them. She has some wild ones like Snowball. It is kind of funny. It can be a red cow and its name is Snowball.”
Blazi is now playing softball and having fun like plenty of kids her age.
Lowe takes on Booger Red (0-0, BFTS) in Round 2. Fans can watch the round exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 7:15 ET.
Blazi may not be in St. Louis this weekend, but Mason knows one of his biggest fans will be rooting for him from afar.
“They want me to do my best and she is always watching PBR,” Lowe concluded. “She is hoping I do good and getting mad when I don’t.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2017 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.