June 8, 2017
The first day of CMA Fest was filled with country music, Predator jerseys, cut-off shorts and pointy-toed boots that looked like they’d just been pulled out of the box. The city is full of tourists who are thoroughly enjoying playing “cowboy” for the weekend. Then….Professional Bull Rider’s (PBR) Bonner Bolton, Cooper Davis, Flint Rasmussen, and Matt West took the stage at the Music City Center.
Dressed in buttoned-up collared shirts, felt cowboy hats, square-toed boots, and creased jeans, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that these guys were the real deal. They showed Nashville what a “cowboy” really looks like without saying a word.
What happened next: A 40-minute conversation about life with a pro bull rider turned dancer, a World Champion bull rider, an iconic rodeo entertainer, and the voice of the PBR.
When conversation turned to Bonner Bolton, Matt West set the record straight for those that didn’t know his past before appearing on Dancing With The Stars.
“Bonner Bolton is a bull rider. Through and through,” West said. “Let’s talk real quick about how you actually got to Dancing With The Stars.”
“I grew up on a ranch in west Texas, and have been riding bulls for about 18 years,” Bolton said, “up until 2016 when I broke my neck. My C2 and C3 vertebra were fused and now there’s a metal frame in there that keeps me from rotating back and forth and up and down. It’s a real challenge for me daily. I’m constantly doing therapy. I’m always having to push my body just to function daily. For me to take on that Dancing With The Stars thing, that was really a major mountain for me to face."
Bolton suffered a near fatal injury following a bull riding accident in 2016. “Doctors told me that 95% of the people they see with the injury I sustained would never walk again. And out of the 5% that do, they don’t fully function."
West flashed back to the episode of Dancing With The Stars where Bonner told the emotional story about the day in 2016 that changed his life forever – in more ways than one.
“They [ABC] found the story, they saw PBR and saw that I was back to recovery and determined to get back to good health. They wanted to ask me last year but they knew I wasn’t recovered well enough, so they asked me this year. And now, moving forward…they tell peoples’ stories really well on that show and they dug deep in to mine.”
When Bolton explained why he joined the cast of the 24th season of DWTS, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel that got him through his own tragedy.
“I felt like I owed everyone justice to tell my stories as best I could,” Bolton explained. “It still brings me to tears when I think about all I have to be grateful for and what God has given me in my life to move on to."
Remember, he broke his neck 16 months ago. Now he’s an up and coming celebrity worthy of the spotlight not only for his dance moves and good looks, but for his character too.
“Looking back, there’s not enough money that you could pay me to go through the agonizing pain of those practice days and hours that I went through to do all that. I surely didn’t have to do it. Yea- they gave me a good paycheck, but at the end of the day I knew as soon as they asked me to do it the reason I wanted to do it was to tell my story because I have been given so much. I don’t look at what was taken away from me and that my career ended. I look at, ‘my life was given a second chance to move on’ and hopefully share that light and inspire other people out there who might be with their back against the wall or going through a dark tine and struggling.“