A professional bull rider is doing his best to become the champion at this year’s RodeoHouston. But he’s already a champ for his actions during Hurricane Harvey.
Neil Holmes is from Cleveland, Texas. He gets the local crowd cheering loudly when he performs at NRG. He’s a rodeo hero for sure. But he's also a Harvey hero.
After the storm, Holmes and some cowboy buddies got a boat, and for days, rescued people and animals in north Houston. They got them out of their flooded homes and neighborhoods and onto higher ground.
"It was kinda like bull riding. One of those times you didn’t have the chance to think, you just had to get out there and react," Holmes said. "Being human nature, you know, it was just best to help anyone that needed help at that time."
Holmes doesn't call himself a hero. He prefers the title “cowboy” as he tries to break down barriers for others seeking to realize their rodeo dreams.
"Being African-American, they're able to see that you don't have to look like whomever else to do whatever you want to do, " Holmes said.
He says bull riding has taken its toll on his body.
"I guess you could compare it to being in a car accident every day," Holmes said.
He works with the Professional Bull Riders organization in community outreach, teaching youngsters about our Western heritage.
But the father of four is hoping his sons do not take up his profession.
"Don't let your babies grow up to be bull riders," Holmes said.
Holmes has already advanced to the semi-finals in bull riding at the rodeo. He hopes to take home the championship as he rides off into the sunset.
He says it’s his final rodeo. He’s retiring after this one.