It is not what happens to you in life, but how you respond to it. This sentiment has been said many ways, by many people, but Bob Benefiel is a living example.
Bob and Jody Benefiel moved to Evergreen in March of 2006 and shortly thereafter, he joined the Evergreen Rodeo Association. Bob was President of the ERA from 2012 – 2015 (2 terms as president), Vice President 2010 – 2011, Head of Security 2008 – 2009. He was also on the Board of Directors for 2015 – 2016. Bob was also very involved with the ERA Royalty Program and traveled thousands of miles to local rodeos in Colorado and Wyoming as well as the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas as an ambassador for ERA.
On August 17, 2017, Bob was bucked off his horse. Immediately after the fall, Bob was unconscious and not breathing, he then started breathing on his own. 911 was called and his wife Jody held his cervical spine until EMS arrived. He was taken by ambulance to Elk Creek Elementary School where he was met by the AirLife helicopter and flown to St Anthony Hospital. It was determined that he had suffered a severe spinal cord injury that was caused by a herniated disc at C2 & C3 that was compressing his spinal column. He also had 2 additional cervical vertebrae that had stable fractures. He underwent emergency surgery that same night and was then admitted to the Neuro Trauma ICU at St. Anthony Hospital.
On August 24, Bob was transferred to Craig Hospital with a central cord injury with permanent damage to his spinal column at the level of C3 & C4. He is considered to have incomplete paralysis. At the time of admission to Craig Hospital he just had movement of his big toes and thumbs.
At Craig Hospital, Bob had an intense rehabilitation schedule from 8am-4pm daily. He did not stop there. Anytime he had a space in his schedule, he found an opening in the therapy schedule to fill it in. In each part of his therapy appointments he pushed his limits and went beyond what was required that day. Bob told everyone at Craig that HE WOULD WALK OUT OF THERE! With his dedication, grit, determination and of course the attitude that this was the time to COWBOY UP, he made huge strides daily.
Any free time outside of therapy, Bob spent talking and encouraging other patients to keep trying. Bob’s focus and optimism throughout his journey has been infectious to all of those around him. His attitude made such an impression on the Craig staff, Bob has been asked to return to give talks about his accident and his recovery.
Incredibly, although not surprisingly to his friends, family and staff at Craig Hospital, Bob did just as he said he would and walked out of Craig on November 2nd. He will continue outpatient therapy 3 days a week and looks forward to returning to the saddle soon.
On November 19th from 2-6pm, please join your community at The Little Bear in Downtown Evergreen as we gather to support and raise funds for Bob and Jody. Be ready for a spectacular afternoon with your community and the band, Barely Gettin’ By. Bob and Jody’s life has understandably completely changed. Jody left her job to be available to help support and care for Bob on his road to recovery. They have sold their home and moved into a rental until they can find the right new place to hang their hats. In addition to the medical bills that continue, their home will need adaptive equipment and possible modifications. See you there!
Notes from just a few of Bob and Jody’s friends!
The day before I went into surgery for breast cancer, Bob knew I was going to be down and out for quite sometime and it would a very long time before I was back in the saddle. He wanted to make sure I went into surgery with one last good memory. It was a cold December day, but we hauled our horses down to Chatfield (where we were hoping it may be a little warmer) and had one final ride. We froze our butts off, but we had a great ride. It was a moment that meant so much to me and a memory I will remember and cherish always. Bob has a heart of gold and would do anything to help someone out or to put a smile on a sick girls face! I keep a quote on my desk, to keep me going on tough days. “Grit…..Facing challenges with courage and strength, and working through them, no matter how difficult they appear.” Bob has true grit and I am so proud to call this strong, courageous, kind man my friend. – Jessica (Austin) Strain
Those who know Bob are used to seeing him on the back of one of his horses or traveling the state promoting the sport of rodeo and helping aspiring royalty and other young competitors achieve their dreams. Often he hauls his own horses for these kids to borrow for a contest or attends just to lend his support and advice to nervous young competitors in the warm up arena. Bob is truly a tireless giver. Many adults and children alike in our mountain community have been the recipient of his warm and unlimited generosity. The road to recovery from his accident has been long and arduous and the expenses significant. Bob has worked day and night to be able to hug his friends and grandchildren and hopefully mount his horse once again. Please join me in giving back to a man who gives so much to the equine community yet asks for so little in return. May God bless you in your generosity. – Mary Tribby
Bob and Jody have been a huge part of my life since I met them back in 2014 when I started my reign as the 2015 Evergreen Rodeo Princess; I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. Bob is selfless, passionate, and the best spokesperson for both the Evergreen Rodeo and our mountain community. He has put so much time and effort into helping and supporting our community over the years that it’s the least we can do to help him and his family in their time of need. – Lauren Hladik