By Andrea Koall
The sun began to set on the Bourbon County Fair in June as a large crowd gathered for the annual mutton-bustin’ competition. Throughout the event, children competed to see who could hold onto a bucking sheep the longest.
An announcer over the loudspeakers introduced an exhibition round. The crowd watched as a 12-year-old boy was lifted from his wheelchair and onto the back of a sheep. The realization that the boy was going to compete drew whispers of concern from onlookers.
“The next contestant competing is ‘Little’ Tuff Hedeman, riding the bull Bodacious,” he said referring to the boy’s favorite bull-riding champion and his bull.
With a loud creak, the gate that held the sheep and the boy opened, and the sheep took off.
The boy held on for as long as he could, but after just a few seconds, the sheep threw him to the ground and scurried away.
A stunned silence hung in the air. Then, as if on cue, the crowd yelled and applauded as the boy was picked up and placed back into his wheelchair. The crowd probably couldn’t see it, but the smile on his face signaled to his family that he wanted to ride on the sheep once more.
Trent Shannon is a lot like any other mutton-bustin’ competitor in his love of adventure, risk-taking and fun. But this small-town cowboy was diagnosed with severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy when he was 9 months old; the entire right side of his brain was missing.