The bull sits quietly in the middle of the ring. It’s not so much taunting those who’ll attempt to ride it to the eight-second mark, but certainly tempting them to try and find the necessary fortitude and courage to carry them towards a few seconds of fame.
David Rideout is one of the riders. His sights aren’t set on any prize in particular; he’s simply looking to prove that what many might think is impossible is totally within reach. Those who might question his choice to ride don’t know David.
One side of his body is paralyzed, the lasting remnants of a stroke a while back. His daughter and a few team members who work alongside him and his fellow residents at The Village of Riverside Glen support him as he makes his way to the centre of the padded ring and climbs aboard the mechanical bull. As it begins to turn and buck, David digs into his strength reserve, his supporters dig into theirs. They’re doing so much more together than riding a mechanical bull: they’re challenging every stereotype society has ever fostered that says old people can’t do certain things.
Eight seconds can seem like a long time, but when the ride is over, the smiles are beyond wide and David had completed the ride that will eventually earn him the title for “wildest ride” at the Riverside Glen Stampede.
“You can do whatever you try to do,” David says, recalling the event. He’s beaming with pride, so joyful he is as he recounts the day that he can barely speak as he’s choked with tears of happiness.
Every summer the Village of Riverside Glen hosts one major themed event, attracting residents, team members and their families. This year they chose a western theme and the bull idea was first tossed out on a whim. “Wouldn’t it be funny if . . .” the team members said, but the more they thought about it, the more excited they became.
“We absolutely discussed the risks,” says Meghan Connelly, one of the team members who helped organize the event, “but we figured they were manageable.”
She says pushing the boundaries of stereotypical mindsets is something the village is doing much more of lately. “It’s more about ‘how can we make this happen?’ as opposed to ‘I don’t know if that’s a good idea.’ ”
The bull riding event, she adds, “was one of the greatest challenges we’ve overcome so far in really challenging the culture of aging.”
It certainly wasn’t Mary Parker’s first rodeo, so to speak. She grew up in the farmlands of eastern Canada and was eager to climb aboard the mechanical bull to show her strength. Her great grandchildren should be proud and inspired.
“Life is too short to be scared,” Mary says.
“I can do pretty much anything, or at least try to do it, and I’m getting to do a lot of things I never thought I’d do.”
Eight seconds is all it takes to prove that anything is possible.
*Click here to see the live Video from the event