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By Teresa Bigham/The Hesperian-Beacon—
LOCKNEY – At a young age, Lockney twins Tuff and Gunner Araujo had a dream of being in the lights of the rodeo circuit.
These two incredible young men have been living their dream – one that has not come easily, but then again riding bulls are not easy.
At the age of six, the twins had no fear and climbed onto their first bulls. When they hit the fourth grade, Gunner was in a wheelchair with a bad broken left leg. For six months he had to keep his leg lifted just a bit and immobilized. “I couldn’t wait for the cast to come off before I started riding again, so I rode bulls with my cast on,” Gunner said.
By the fifth grade, Tuff had a string of bad luck as well. He broke his right leg and was in a wheelchair for eight months. “I couldn’t wait to get my cast off and get back out there. I wanted to be riding bulls, or like Gunner, I was riding with my cast on,” said Tuff.
Those who know these two young men know they do not often agree on anything, but there are two things on which they do agree.
The first is that they would not have been able to live their dream had it not been for their dad, Romeo.
“Our dad helped us in every way he could to achieve our dream,” said Gunner.
Tuff added, “It’s because of our dad that we are able to get the experience of riding bulls.”
The second thing these two agree on is that Charlie Thompson was the man who showed them the ropes. “We were at the Pavilion in Lubbock watching bull riding. Charlie was the man running it all. We asked him how we could get started riding bulls. That was all it took,” said the twins. “He took us to his ranch one day and showed us everything.”
These young bull riders started on steers at Thompson ranch. At the age of 12, the young bull riders had moved up the ranks and were riding in the open bull class – the big, full-grown bulls.
At the age of 13, they started riding mini bulls but aged out of that shortly after. Then it was back to riding in the open bull class.
All throughout this time, these two young men had one role model, the late Kenneth McKee, that they both looked up. “In the summer we basically lived with him,” Tuff said. “He took us in and showed us everything he knew.”
McKee, who called Wolfforth home, was known for being the World Champion three consecutive years. He took those titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He was also the PSBR president.
The Araujo twins own 13 bulls between them.
“The logical thing was for us to go start a business together. So that is what we did. We started T & G Bucking Bulls,” Gunner said.
On Saturday, these two not only rode in the Silverton Rodeo but they also supplied all the bulls. Thirteen bull riders were present and eager to show the large crowd what they could do.
As for the Araujo twins, it was not the best night they have had. Gunner got a re-ride after the first round.
Fellow student and friend Jordyn Varner, said, “I thought both the twins did really well, and I enjoyed cheering for some local Longhorns.”
Corbin McKee had the job of flank man for the rodeo.
McKee along with the Araujos will be hosting the first annual K-Mac Memorial Bull Riding event on Saturday, Oct. 24, in Lockney. General admission will be $10.
To participate, the mutton busting fee is $20 per entry and the bull riding entry fee is $100 with a 100 percent payback.
For more information or to enter call McKee at 806-724-6778. This event will be loaded with lots of fun for the whole family, McKee said.
For more information on T & G Bucking Bulls check out the Facebook page or call 806-292-6685.