Professional bull rider Aaron Roy’s life changed on July 11, 2013.
That’s when Roy was bucked off bull Gretzky leaving the bucking chute at the Calgary Stampede and was trampled while landing awkwardly on his head and shoulders.
At first, the native of Asquith, Saskatchewan, had no feeling in his legs and thoughts of paralysis quickly filled his mind. The chute operator asked if he’d broken his legs. Roy replied he thought it was more serious. “Get the stretcher,” he recalled saying.
The feeling in his legs came back back a minute or two after the accident, but the 27-year-old immediately underwent surgery for a fractured back and had two rods and eight screws inserted.
Roy, who spend 10 days in the hospital, called it a freak accident and said having no feeling in his legs was a scary and shocking ordeal. It crossed his mind that he wouldn’t be able to ride again at a Built Ford Tough Series event, but it will happen Saturday when he returns for his first PBR elite event in nearly 20 months at Save Mart Center.
“I’m excited to get back there but I’m not going to put my expectations too high,” Roy said “Just try to be able to back there and ride at that level again. Go up there and have fun. Don’t get me wrong: I’m going 100 percent to try to win, but being my first event back I’m not expecting too much.”
Roy said he chose he picked the Fresno event to return so he won’t fall too far behind in the points standings. He was ninth in points in 2013 before the accident — which agent and childhood friend Jason Davidson said was the fist time Roy was stretchered out of an arena since turning pro in 2007.
“It was real tough for him and his wife,” he said. “There were expecting their first child in January and Aaron was having a career year. He was on top of his game, and in bull riding that’s a concern that can be taken away from you in an instant, and it was with Aaron. You forget about bull riding real fast when they’re talking about never walking again. That was a real scary time.”
Roy was determined to get things going again. After three months, he was limited to merely walking with a cane. Soon came some light stretching and building back up his core muscles. Finally, after six months, he began rahabbing and spending four days a week in the gym.
Last fall, he was cleared by doctors to return to the rodeo. On Nov. 14, he won the 2014 PBR Canada Finals in his first event since his frightful ride in Calgary.
While he admited the injury had him thinking about calling it a career, since his win he’s competed in two additional PBR Canada events, including one last week, and is been anxious to get back to the BFTS tour.
“It kind of crossed my mind right when the injury happened,” he said of retiring. “Later on, after going to rehab, it was my determination to get back and ride again and prove to myself that an injury didn’t stop my career.”