An Austin teen born with spina bifida is in an inspiration among the Professional Bull Riding community. Thanks to her team at Dell Children's Medical Center and the Children's Hospital Heroes, Rebecca Shumaker continues to reach her goals as a professional stock contractor at the young age of 16.
Each morning, Shumaker gets up and goes to work on her family's ranch in Austin. While she uses a wheelchair to get around out on the ranch, she uses a modified all terrain vehicle that her Dad equipped with hand controls.
"I was 11 when I got my first bull," Shumaker said. That's not a typical request from an 11-year-old, but Rebecca had dreams of becoming a stock contractor. Dreams her father was determined to make come true.
"We realize that she's in a chair and try not to focus on that," said Wade Shumaker.
"I thought she was interested in the bull rider, not the bulls but that's what she wanted to do," added Rebecca's Mom, Carolyn.
When she's not at the ranch or at PBR competition, Rebecca is at Dell Children's for physical therapy to get stronger.
"Spina bifida is a disorder that has weakness of the muscles at various levels just below the level of the spine involved. One complication Rebecca has had is a vocal chord paralysis so she's been working with a speech therapist too," explained Dr. Maureen Nelson, the director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Dell Children's.
Dr. Nelson stresses the importance of having goals in physical therapy which Rebecca has.
"In therapy they are helping me get muscle so hopefully I can help with whatever needs to be done here," Rebecca said.
On the circuit, she's made red carpet appearances and has the trophies and buckles to prove her success.
"My bull got 12th place in the classic at the finals last year," Rebecca recalls.
"She inspires a lot of people and they are always telling me how much
they are inspired by her and she doesn't let being in a wheelchair stop
her from meeting her goals," Carolyn Shumaker added.
One day, Rebecca hopes to own her own company: Becca's Bronkin' Bulls.
"Faith is everything. You can't get through this stuff without it," Wade Shumaker said.