Bullrider The Movie
  I Just Couldn't Quit...
by Jonnie Jonckowski
  Jonnie JonckowskiI found myself looking around and wondering what in the world I had done. I must quit. But if I quit without finishing I would never know whether I had what it took. And it is easy to see where you finish when you quit ... LAST. That wasn't in my vocabulary.

Mom invited me to coffee and said we needed to talk. I just knew that she was going to tell me to quit, and I didn't want to hear it. Not from one of the few people who still believed in me. I drove over to see her, and she asked how I was doing. I replied, "Okay." She then asked whether I still had plans of going to the World Championships, and I told her, "I have to, Mom. I have no choice."

"But how are you going to get there? You have no money!"

"Mom, I'll make it. I don't know how, but I'll make it."

She began to cry, held my hand and said, "Your father and I have talked it over, and we want to help you." My eyes welled with tears so fast that the tears made it down my face and onto the table before I could wipe them.

"I can't take your help, Mom. You have never approved of my riding, and I can't take money for something that you don't believe in."

"But Honey, we believe in you." Those were the only words that I needed to hear. "We believe in you." I left there relieved but still worried as to how I would pull this all together.

I saw my best friend, Mary, who had held through it all with me, and I shared with her what my mother had said. She said about the same thing, "I know you, Jonnie Jo, and somehow you will get through this. You are the strongest, bravest person that I have ever known, and I love you very much." I now had two people giving me strength to finish.

I remember being so cold that night. I had burned all of the cedar siding that a friend had stripped off his house. Morning came, and I was so stiff. Because of previous injuries, my joints took extra-long to get going. And I would have killed for a cup of coffee. My dogs, Pal and Jake, were starting to show signs of lack of food as well. I closed my eyes and prayed. When I looked out the sun was shining. I called for my dogs and set off for a long afternoon run. I felt light and strong and my confidence began to rise. I started to feel once again like a champion, a winner.

The run went better than it had in a very long time and when I returned home, I paused at the mailbox along the road. I almost didn't look in, because I was tired of seeing the stack of overdue bills that always seemed to be waiting for me. But something made me reach into the box I would normally pass by. I reached in and pulled out the typical window envelope ... only this one looked different. I read, "Paid to the order of Jonnie Jonckowski." I tore into it and couldn't believe what I saw. It was an Escrow refund for exactly the amount that I had figured I would need to pay entry fees to the finals, airfare, and meals. The check was from refinancing my home to lower the payments. But I didn't expect this, not now.

I looked up to the heavens and dropped to my knees, thanked God and began to sob. I knew now that I was going to win, that there would be nothing left to stop me. The long battle with loss of security, home, food, friends, and a feeling that my God had abandoned me was gone. I knew He would now allow me to win. He would let me satisfy the drive to succeed that had owned me most all of my life. To win, in a sense, would give my life back to me, and I would know I could do anything I set my mind to do. You need a lot of faith in yourself and a lot in the good Lord that He will give you the tools to achieve, if you only open your eyes to them.

Two weeks later I boarded the plane with a send-off from my parents and best friend, Mary. I was off to take on the world. I had been through the mill, and I was confident I was going to return a champion.

I had done my usual prayer in the ladies' room at the rodeo (seemed the only place to find privacy in a crowd). I drew the kind of bull I liked to ride, one that fit my style of riding to a tee. My turn was near. So, I thanked the Lord for giving me the chance to show the world my best riding ability. I was ahead in the standings going into the finals and only needed to be somewhere in the money to win the world title.

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