PUEBLO, Colo. – Chase Outlaw didn’t expect to see the hundreds of text messages and missed calls on his iPhone when he woke up following 12 hours of facial reconstructive surgery at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center on July 24.
Even more so, Outlaw was stunned when his wife, Nicole, and sister, Brittany, eventually told him that a GoFundMe fundraiser organized by family friend Peyton Rose Martin had raised thousands of dollars for him in less than 1 hour.
Outlaw is still astonished 17 days after he broke 15 bones on each side of his face attempting to ride War Cloud at the PBR at Cheyenne Frontier Days Touring Pro Division event.
The GoFundMe fundraiser has since raised nearly $41,000, while the Western Sports Foundation and the PBR have also assisted the Outlaws.
“I can’t be thankful enough for the fans,” Outlaw said. “I ain’t the type of person – I really wanted to tell them no, don’t do the GoFundMe. I didn’t realize how many people actually cared about me, but I know this is going to help a lot with those doctor bills. I definitely can’t get over how much support from all the fans that I have had through this. I just want to say a big thanks to all of my fans.
“I have a lot more people supporting me and standing behind me than I thought. That was real humbling.”
The 26-year-old needed to get 68 screws, 11 plates and four pieces of surgical mesh inserted into his face to repair the multiple major bilateral fractures that were result of War Cloud head-butting him at the 1.51-second mark. He spent four days in the hospital before being discharged.
Those same fans that offered a helping hand have only added motivation to Outlaw’s goal of still qualifying for the 2018 PBR World Finals on Nov. 7-11 at T-Mobile Arena.
Outlaw, who also expressed his gratitude about Bonner Bolton staying by his side in Cheyenne, met with Dr. Tandy Freeman last week to have his stitches removed. Outlaw still needs to meet with an eye specialist in the coming weeks.
However, Outlaw is hopeful he can return to competition come the first week of October.
“I would like to come back the first of October and try and win an event,” Outlaw said. “Hell, with the points they got, all it takes is a couple go round wins to be in the Top 30. The way I look at the points, I need some guys at the top to keep getting points. Then I would hope the (PBR) would give me an injury exemption for the Velocity Finals.”
Last year, the PBR extended injury exemptions to riders that had premier series exemptions available, such as J.W. Harris.
“I still have a lot of plans on still being able to make the Finals,” Outlaw said.
And, yes, Outlaw does plan on wearing a helmet for the foreseeable future. He was not wearing one in Cheyenne.
“Oh, yeah. For sure,” Outlaw said. “I will wear one of the best ones they make.”
Outlaw is ranked 68th in the world standings and is 272.5 points behind the Top 35. He had been 11-for-29 (37.93 percent) this summer with two victories, six Top-5 finishes and 202.5 world points before having his face shattered.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider still has eight injury exemptions at his disposal after missing the entire first half of the 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast recovering from offseason reconstructive shoulder surgery. It was Outlaw’s third shoulder surgery since 2015 after he was injured on the final ride at the 2017 PBR World Finals – a 90.5-point ride on Indian Medicine.
Outlaw has been resting at home and has slowly started to feel less pain in his face.
“It’s been a struggle. That’s for sure,” Outlaw said. “Now it is just letting it heal. It was hard on me. I got home and it was tough on me last week. It was the pain and it felt like I was getting pneumonia. I was sick, running up a fever and stuff. I can’t see way far out there and stuff is still pretty blurry.”
The six-time PBR World Finals qualifier admitted it is frustrating to be injured less than two months after returning to competition on June 8, but Outlaw understands it is just part of the game.
“Every time we get on, we know the risk of it, but it is frustrating as hell,” Outlaw said. “I guess that is what separates the champions from the people who just want to be called a bull rider. A lot of people don’t want to go through three shoulder surgeries and wouldn’t want to do it anymore. This is all I know.
“It is frustrating, but you have to take that frustration and turn it into momentum, be positive and move forward.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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