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Rodeo star encourages helmets for safety

Rodeo champion and competitor in “The Amazing Race,” Cord McCoy is championing wearing helmets while riding ATVs, horses and even bulls, as part of ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma.
By Heather Warlick, Staff Writer Published: March 25, 2014
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Cord McCoy takes life eight seconds at a time, the length of time of a qualified bull ride. The world champion rodeo and reality TV star knows how precious each second is, whether he’s trying to stay on a bucking bronco or make it to the finish line with his brother, Jet McCoy, on CBS’ “The Amazing Race.”

On a bull or bronco, those eight seconds have been called the “most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”

But it took less than eight seconds for disaster, or the hoof of a horse, to strike Cord McCoy. On Sept. 26, 2004, he was riding in an Oklahoma City rodeo when his bronco started bucking. It threw McCoy, then stepped on his head, crushing his skull “like a Coke can.”

“I’ve had lots of injuries as a professional bull rider. I’ve broke lots of bones, had lots of stitches,” McCoy said. “But the scariest injury I’ve ever had was the head injury. I don’t want people to have to learn the importance of helmets the way I had to learn it.”

Glad to be alive

When he first woke up in the trauma center, McCoy said his thoughts weren’t about returning to bull riding. “I was just glad to be alive.” He had been in coma for two weeks and the long, gnarled scar in the shape of a big C on the left side of his skull left more than just a physical reminder of the near death accident. He couldn’t talk, walk, feed himself or do much of anything without help.

He spent the next eight months on the most amazing race of his life, relearning how to walk, how to talk.

It’s no wonder, then, that McCoy is a champion of helmets. He believes people should wear a helmet when riding any kind of bike, ATV, horse and, yes, even while bull riding.

McCoy hasn’t ridden without a helmet since his accident.

Speaking out on helmets

McCoy recently signed on as a celebrity spokesman for “ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma,” an initiative to increase and encourage helmet use. The initiative is a partnership between the OU Medical Center Level 1 Trauma Center, where he spent time in 2004, The Children’s Center, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Injury Prevention Services and OSU 4-H Youth Development.

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I’ve had lots of injuries as a professional bull rider. I’ve broke lots of bones, had lots of stiches. But the scariest injury I’ve ever had was the head injury. I don’t want people to have to learn the importance of helmets the way I had to learn it.”

Cord McCoy,

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