Kyle, 17, is a team roper for his high school rodeo team. During a competition in Jackson Hole, Kyle saw his partner head the steer and begin to turn him to the left for Kyle, the heeler, to complete the run. But suddenly, Kyle fell from his horse.
A week and a half later, Kyle and his family learned that he had a brain tumor affecting his cerebellum. The months that passed and the treatments that followed took the sport he loved away from him.
“I’d always been interested in rodeo, just raised that way,” Kyle said. But “that passion to rodeo was taken away from me.” His wish, then, was to get it back.
Kyle wished to attend the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. He and his family had dreamed of a vacation like that while watching the finals on television year after year. The best of the best rodeo stars come out for the competition in the sport that Kyle loves most. In the weeks leading up to his wish, his family watched “his face light up every time [they] talked about getting ready to go.”
After all the plans were made, Kyle and his family traveled to Las Vegas for a weekend at the National Finals Rodeo. He enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility before the evening’s events, getting to see what competitors see during a night of competition.
The city was bustling with rodeo fans, and Kyle encountered a professional team roper in his hotel. Kyle was given the rope used to win the third round of the NFR, a keepsake to remind him of his wish trip forever.
“As you’d imagine, it was really fun” to attend two rounds of the National Finals Rodeo, Kyle remembered. Thanks to Malik Hegge, Kyle and his family spend one night’s competition in Gold Buckle seats – in the front row in the middle of the arena. “You could almost reach out and touch the contestants,” said Kyle’s mom. Dirt was flying, and the family experienced a life-changing evening at the National Finals Rodeo.
“Words cannot express how grateful we are for this experience,” Kyle’s mom shared. “I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all those that made this trip possible for our family. I had a hard time holding back tears.”
Kyle and his family plan on making the National Finals Rodeo a new family tradition after his incredible wish. “It will be an experience that will never be forgotten,” his mother said.