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Update: Bull rider determined to ride again after serious injury at Florida's Cow Town Rodeo in Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE — Florida’s Cow Town Rodeo started off in a bloody horror as rodeo fans watched the first bull rider out of the chute, Jeffrey Ramagos, 21, suffer serious injuries from a head-to-head collision with the rodeo bull, Big Deal.

Ramagos, from Zachary, Louisiana, is now out of ICU and in a regular hospital room, “healing at a miraculous pace,” said his mother Jennifer Hopkins. Ramagos had his tracheotomy tube removed March 18 and is starting to speak. He has been able to eat pudding and soft food, and is walking daily. Ramagos is on the road to recovery.

Just after the accident, other bull riding friends of the injured rider grabbed his wallet and sent it with the medics, meanwhile others made phone calls and tracked down an emergency contact that could maneuver the patient privacy laws and obtain information. Once informed, Ramagos’s mother and stepfather were contacted and on the next flight to Florida to be with their son.

After the rodeo, hoards of bull riders and rodeo fans hitched rides and drove themselves to the Lawnwood hospital to check on Jeffrey. The Okeechobee County Cattlemen’s Association, who produces Florida’s Cow Town Rodeo, also reached out to rodeo fans via their Facebook page, to let the public know of Jeffrey’s status, as well as where they could donate, send flowers, or give financially. A Go Fund Me donation site was created by Jeffrey’s mother, which has already raised more than $3,000.

The Professional Cowboy Rodeo Association, along with Justin Boots, has a Cowboy Relief Fund where medical bills for these types of injuries can be subsidized, and both have started their process in helping the family.

“It was incredible to see not only the people in the rodeo stands that day, but the rodeo foundation, bull riders, and people across the nation, support Jeffrey’s recovery. The rodeo community is a family,” said Matt Clemons, former pro rodeo bull rider and owner of the bull involved in the accident. “A lot of people outside rodeo don’t understand that this is part of our heritage — like the running of the bulls or bullfighting in Spain — it’s our tradition. The bull that Jeffrey was on when he was injured is one of my tamest bulls, as a matter-of-fact, my one-year-old son could pet his face when I was feeding the bull. These animals aren’t killers or out to get anyone; they’re trained to buck — that’s their job.”

Veteran rodeo announcer, Jerry Todd added, “rough stock riders know prior to riding an animal that it is not a question of ‘if’ you will get hurt, but ‘when’ you will get hurt.”

Ramagos has already said he’s going to start doing squats so he’ll ready to get back on a bull again as soon as possible.

Ramagos bought his PRCA card in late 2011 and has five PRCA rodeo titles to his credit, winning in Mobile, Ala.; Ada, Okla., and Mobridge, S.D., as a rookie, and Hattiesburg, Miss., and Center, Texas, a year ago. He finished eighth in the Southeastern Circuit last year and was 72nd in the world standings with earnings of $16,330. He was eighth in the Southeastern Circuit this season at the time of his injury.

The public can find out more about the Jeffrey Ramagos Rodeo Recovery Project on Facebook, and can donate to Jeffrey Ramagos via GoFundme.com. For more information on Florida’s Cow Town Rodeo, please visit www.facebook.com/floridascowtownrodeo.

About the Okeechobee Cattlemen’s Association
A local sector of the National Cattlemen’s Association, the Okeechobee County Cattlemen’s Association is a non-profit organization consisting of local and influential agriculture community members. This 501c.5 organization gives financial support to many agriculture programs and extra-curricular agriculture programs supporting youth in the county of Okeechobee, Fla. For more information, please visit www.okeechobeecattlemensassociation.com.