One last ride

Organizers close the gate on memorial event

An electric feel coursed through the air at Dripping Springs Ranch Park Sunday as bull riders mounted their rides and tried to tame close to a ton of sinew and muscle.

Over the course of two decades, bull riders and fans have come to expect such a feeling when the Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Ride comes to town.

It’s that thrill organizers of the event hoped would forever endure as they held one final ride in memory of Brent Thurman, a Hays County man who gave to so many. 

Kay Thurman, Brent Thurman’s mom, has led the charge to keep the bull ride going for 20 years. Kay Thurman said 2018 was an opportune time to put the tradition to rest. Kay Thurman said the event takes a whole year to produce, which includes duties ranging from signing sponsors to organizing the show.

“Sometimes you have to ask yourself when enough is enough,” Kay Thurman said. “Through heartfelt consideration, this is our last year for the bull riding road. We’ll continue our story just in a different chapter.”

Starting in 1998, organizers created the bull ride to honor Brent Thurman, a successful professional bull rider who died during a National Finals Rodeo event in Las Vegas, NV in 1994.

The event has been held in different cities throughout the state, but settled in Dripping Springs where Thurman called home for the last half of his life.

Along with being a bull rider, Thurman also mentored mentally and physically challenged Texans during his life, including helping the residents of the Marbridge Ranch assisted living facility near Manchaca.

Since the bull ride’s inception, all proceeds collected during the ride went toward funding for Marbridge residents.

David Haffelder, spokesperson for the Brent Thurman bullride and a rodeo clown, said he and the event’s organizers respected Kay Thurman’s decision, citing how much work the organization has put into the event for two decades.

Instead of a bull ride, the Brent Thurman Foundation aims to continue fundraising and contributing to Marbridge, along with the Jason Waldorf Foundation and athletes of the Texas Special Olympics.

Haffelder said they plan to hold fundraisers such as the Exceptional Rodeo, an event that allows mentally and physically challenged participants to practice their roping and riding skills.

“We wanted to go out on a high note this year,” Haffelder said. “We’re going to keep an annual golf tournament and the Exceptional Rodeo going forward so next year we’ll have the Exceptional Rodeo around this time.”

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