Professional Bull Riders visit children in hospital

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Springfield native L.J. Jenkins is one of the tough guys.  A real cowboy, he holds the spot as the top bull rider in the world.

"You get stepped on by 2,000-pound bull, a lot of people will get up and walk away from it," Jenkins said.

But the 25-year-old rider also has a softer side, and that side was on display on Friday at Cox Children's Hospital when he and fellow pro bull rider Justin Koon paid a visit to children being treated for illnesses and injuries.  Jenkins and Koon are two of the 30 professional bull riders in the city for a Professional Bull Riding event at JQH Arena this weekend.

"Those kids look up to us as being professional bull riders, but really we look up to them.  Those kids have hearts the size of Texas," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the children fighting for their health are the real heroes.  Many of the little ones who got to meet the real-life cowboys did not say much, but nurses said the children will likely brag about meeting them for days to come.

Kaylee Humphrey, 13, was in the hospital after getting her appendix removed.  She said she watches bull riding on TV.

"They've got to be strong," Humphrey said.

"Same with us when we get on back of a bull.  We've got to fight through it the whole time, and thats what these kids are doing everyday," Jenkins said.

PBR events are at JQH Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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