Dominic is a fifteen-year-old I met him on the Colorado rodeo circuit when he was riding bulls.
Dominic is no ordinary cowboy. When he was twelve, his “friend” shot him in the leg. Dominic usually wears a prosthetic but when I visited his home he had just had an operation on his stump so he was on crutches. Dominic has had eleven operations in the past three years.
Even if you have both legs it takes a lot of guts to ride a bull.
Dominic says “I just want to be a role model, to show others what one is capable of even if life throws obstacles in your way. Only you can truly make things better as long as you put your mind to it and believe in yourself.”
Dominic has mixed success at the rodeo. When I first saw him ride he seemed to slide straight off the bull just after it left the chute, yet, this did not deter him. As time progressed he had figured out how to stay on for several seconds, however, a common occurrence was that his leg kept flying off. Perhaps an inevitable consequence of trying to ride a bull with a prothetic, but Dominic always gets up, picks up his leg and returns ready to ride at the next rodeo.
After a year of perseverance I witness him ride to success at the Hotchkiss rodeo, the whole crowd rose to their feet as Dominic hopped out the arena, his twin brother ran in and picked up his leg whilst his friend supported him acting as a crutch.
I believe Dominic is a true example of Teddy Roosevelt's famous quote…
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Dominic lives in Olathe, famous for not much other than its corn. He lives in a trailer with his mother and her boyfriend. His sister and her boyfriend and his twin brother. The trailer needs some fixing and has no tuning water.
There is another twist to the story, along aside, or part of, the family live an array of animals. In fact a spectacular array of animals, Ginger the horse, Bento Dominic's dog, five more dogs, a goat, five chickens, two pheasants, two pigs, (smokey and bacon), budgerigars, a parrot, two rabbits, goldfish, cats, lizards, a chameleon, and several snakes.
Dominic showed me round his trailer, in his bedroom, there was a large collection of cuddly toys on display, each given after he had an operation on his leg. Revealing that he may be not such tough bull rider after all.
There was also a rifle casually leaning against the wall next to his bed. His room seemed to be a mass of contradictions.
On the wall a small framed drawing of a small boy and dog looking down upon Dominic when he sleeps saying “Father in heaven hear my prayer keep me in thy loving care. Be my guide in all I do bless all who love me too, Amen.” Dominic's father left him and his twin brother when they were only two. His stepfather died when they were nine.
Staying strong after losing a leg is in itself heroic, but as Dominic revealed more of his life to me I realised that he has had other adversities to overcome and still to face.
Despite these adversities, Dominic is defiantly moving right along with his life, he’s learned to drive and fix up his truck. He is planning on graduating early next year. He has a lovely girlfriend, is super polite and friendly and he rides bulls.
In my eyes, this is one heroic boy, with one hell of a story to tell.