By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Ryan Dirteater is used to signing autographs, posing for pictures, shaking hands and receiving hugs whenever he goes to the grocery store in his hometown of Hulbert, Oklahoma.
These days, the hometown hero has to only smile from afar.
That is, of course, even if Dirteater decides to head out to run any errands. Such is life in the current social distancing age amidst the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
“It is tough for me to go to the grocery stores because I want to be that guy that is coming up and shaking your hand or giving a hug, but you don’t want to spread the virus,” Dirteater said Tuesday. “Because there are elders. You don’t know if (people) are going home to their mom, dad or grandparents so you want to keep your distance, but it is hard because I want to go talk to them. But when I go to the grocery store nowadays you don’t want to spread nothing. That is why everybody is shut down. We want to keep everybody safe and healthy.”
Dirteater, though, found a way to bring a smile to his local community this past weekend.
A group of people and local businesses in the Hulbert region came together Sunday to create 50 food boxes for those in need. The 2016 PBR World Finals event winner was asked to help deliver the groceries to the doorsteps of families or others that needed a helping hand.
Dirteater said yes, of course, and that it was a no-brainer to pitch in.
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“Times like this are tough,” Dirteater said. “We want our elderly and kids to stay at home. Some people can’t go into to town to get stuff they need. It is hard for folks right now. I was able to donate my time and travel around and help out folks in the Hulbert community. There was a group of Hulbert folks that got together in Hulbert community, and they donated a lot of food to go into food baskets to donate to the Hulbert kids and community. They asked me if I wanted to go in and deliver some things. Sure, I did it.
“I was glad I was able to do that, and there was quite a few of us that really helped out in our community, that small community we got.”
According to Dirteater, Hulbert Super Stop Country Corner, Rachel Dallis Attorney at Law, Hunter and Becca Eastham, Tommy Mullins, Cherokee Country Wrecker Service and many more members of the community donated the food boxes.
Every little bit helps, says Dirteater.
“We are just trying to do our part to help with what is going on right now,” Dirteater continued. “I know it is all over the world, and there are bigger cities out there that are hit harder than us, but it is spreading, and you need to stay at home as much as you can. Try not to be around and be social. There is Facebook and stuff like that, but keep your distance from people.
“Just try to take care of yourself and your families because right now it is really what is most important. Nothing else in the world matters right now besides taking care of yourselves, your loved ones, your family. They are shutting down and doing a lot of things. It is hard to get food, and it is stuff we need to survive on. I was just glad I was just able to help out some folks in the community. While I am still here walking around, I will still do my part to try and help out as much as I can. I know there are a lot of other folks other there helping. That is what it is about. If you are doing good and you are able to help out, try to help out as best you can. Help your buddy. Help your neighbor out.”
Dirteater said he helped deliver food to about 10 different families in the local area.
“They really appreciated the food that was handed to them,” Dirteater said. “A lot of them are scared to go into the town. They don’t want to spread the sickness, and I understand. We all understand the sickness going around. That virus. It is very highly recommended to keep your distance form people, which we did. We used all precautions that we could. If they weren’t home we dropped it off, and most of them were home, and we dropped it off and went on to the next house.”
Dirteater is currently 21st in the world standings, and is out of competition because of multiple thoracic fractures he sustained at Iron Cowboy, presented by Ariat, on Feb. 8.
The 30-year-old has been out for a month and a half since Mason’s Missouri Golden bucked him off in 3.04 seconds during Round 3 of the PBR Major in downtown Los Angeles.
Dirteater’s recovery is going well, and he has been able to handle a majority of chores around his Oklahoma ranch. He did attempt to ride one of his horses two weeks ago, but he began to feel discomfort and tightness in his back.
However, Dirteater said that overall he is feeling great and is looking forward to finishing out the final season of his career later this year.
“It has been two weeks since I been on anything, horses-wise,” Dirteater said. “The doctor did say it would be a minimum of three months before I get back on a bull. It will be three months May 8. I am really looking forward to that.”
For now, though, Dirteater is most concerned about his family, friends and the world as we all continue to strive to stay healthy amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
That is the priority.
“Like I said before, I am not too worried about that part,” Dirteater said of his back injuries. “We just have to get a cure for this virus so we can get back to everyone doing what they want to be doing right now. Enjoy your time with your loved ones, your home time right now. That is the positive side of what is going on right now.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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