This is the type of story Stampede legends are made of. It is a story of friendship, a test of physical limits, and how it all came together on the tallest, longest multi-point event zipline in North America.
Every year at the Calgary Stampede, the Cowboy Up Challenge is a must see for guests from all over the world and horse enthusiasts. The fast paced action and incredible horsemanship leaves guests on the edge of their seat, with the vibrant personalities of the competitors making the event a fan favourite. This year however, it was an event that took place after the Thursday night finals that made the 2018 Cowboy Up Challenge one to remember.
Joel Mobley is a South Carolina cowboy who is no stranger to the world of extreme cowboy races. As a popular announcer and professional competitor, Mobley, like virtually every extreme cowboy racer, wanted the coveted invitation to the prestigious Cowboy Up Challenge at the Calgary Stampede. But while working towards that goal, he was suddenly faced with a hardship that would stop him in his tracks – Mobley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis in late summer of 2017 and made his emotional, last competitive ride in the fall of 2017.
That didn’t keep him from taking his first trip to the Stampede in 2018. With a little help from the Stampede family, as well as some special sponsors, Mobley and his wife Barb were able to make the trip to Calgary to watch his horse perform with its new trainer at this year’s Cowboy Up Challenge.
Although a heartwarming part of their visit, this is not where Mobley’s story at the Calgary Stampede ends.
As the Cowboy Up Challenge finals drew to a close, the barns filled with celebration, another successful Calgary Stampede for all the competitors, and Mobley watched on in the crowd. As the spirit of celebration grew, buzz about the Stampede’s newest Midway addition the zipline could be heard.
With many competitors daring to take a ride, Mobley expressed how he would love to experience it for himself, but his illness prevented him from climbing the stairs. This was another example of the setbacks that his disease has brought, and his inability to share spontaneous adventures with his fellow competitors and friends.
But once again, friends and fate stepped in, and that’s where this special Stampede story really begins. Embracing the spirit of Stampede, the barn came alive that night and the seemingly impossible feat would, in true cowboy style, become possible.
Determined to make sure that Mobley experienced everything the Calgary Stampede had to offer, Missouri cowboys, Runt Rageth and Chris Redden, along with the creator of Extreme Cowboy racing, Craig Cameron, stepped up – literally. Carrying Mobley up the 14 storeys that make up the first zipline tower, Rageth, Redden and Cameron were determined that Mobley would ride the zip line – and that he did.
“In extreme cowboy racing and the cowboy up group, we’re just like a great big family,” said Chris Redden, Cowboy Up Competitor. “We all look out for everybody, all the time. If anybody needs help we’re going to be there to help them.”
Then, they carried him again, up the stairs of the second tower, to make the experience complete. Embracing the cowboy way, Stampede spirit and tight-knit comradery, the cowboys checked off an item on Mobley’s bucket list together.
“Joel’s made a lot of things happen for us. He’s just one of those guys that if he wanted to do it and the shape that he’s in, we were going to make sure he got to do it,” added Redden.
Normally, it is said that ‘cowboys don’t cry’, but for this group of ziplining extreme cowboys, an exception was made for the happy tears shared that night.
The Cowboy Up group had more than just a championship to celebrate, but also friendship, determination and the ability to come together when it is needed most. And for the first time Stampede guest, Mobley had the opportunity to watch his old horse, create a life-long memory, and as he said – “have the best time of my life being able to be here and be treated so special.”