On January 9, 2017, the bull riding community lost one of its best to suicide.
Ty Pozzobon was 25 years old, on his way to the top, but his silent struggle cut his life short, leaving his friends, family, and fellow bull riders saddened and shocked.
World champion bull rider Cody Snyder and his wife and business partner, Rhonda were close to Ty, having known him since childhood, and working as his agents for the three years before he took his own life.
“No one had a clue,” explains Cody. “We are as shocked as the day it happened.”
The two describe Ty with such love and respect for who he was as a bull rider and a person.
“He never had an enemy. Everyone loved Ty.” Rhonda smiles as she recalls.
“The rodeo world will never be the same,” Cody adds.
And they don’t want it to be. They know that in order to save lives like Ty’s in the future, things must change.
“Why didn’t [Ty] come talk to us? That’s the thing, we have to get guys talking,” Cody exclaims. “It’s okay to not be okay.”
Ty’s suicide has fueled the Snyders’ passion to put mental health in the forefront. If big tough bull riders can talk openly about mental health, everyone can.
“I don’t think it matters what sport it is, especially with men, they think it’s a weakness, but it’s not. It’s okay to ask for help,” Rhonda explains.
Since Ty’s death, Cody has already noticed conversation around mental health open up within the bull riding community, to the point where at least one life has already been saved.
“Last year, during Stampede, one of our bull riders kept another from killing himself. He spent the whole night talking to him,” he recalls. “We’ve got each other’s backs, probably more than any other sport.”
The two are determined to get the word out on a larger scale, so this year, they have chosen to use their 19th annual Ranchman’s Bullbustin’ event as a platform to not only raise funds, but to spark conversation around mental health and the programs available at CMHA – Calgary.
“One of the biggest things that we can do with CMHA is let people know that there is always someone to talk to, and that it’s okay to talk,” explains Rhonda. “Maybe that’s all it takes. To know that someone cares about them, and understands.
“If we can help one guy that goes ‘oh maybe tomorrow I’ll go talk to somebody’, that’s what we are trying to do,” Cody says.
It was CMHA – Calgary’s recently opened Recovery College and peer-led Welcome Centre that drew the Snyder’s in.
“What they’ve implemented, it’s incredible,” Rhonda says. “They serve everybody. There’s no age limit. There’s no cost. We want to help fund those dreams that they have, and the programs that they are putting into place.”
This years’ Bullbustin’ event has already been sold out, however, there are other ways to support. Donate directly to CMHA-Calgary so that they can continue to provide a safe space for individuals from all walks of life to feel like they belong, and where they are able to connect with others and learn what works as they take control of their own recovery journey.
For more information about the Recovery College and Welcome Centre, visit www.recoverycollegecalgary.ca, or drop by and experience it for yourself! Doors are open to everyone.
Visit our campaign page #TurnI2We to learn more about the initiative.