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Rodeo legend visits hospital

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
August 16, 2003
Tuff Hedeman was happy to be in a hospital as a visitor instead of patient.
A three-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion bull rider, Hedeman had his fair share of visits to the emergency room during his 16-year professional career.
Hedeman, who was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1997, is the president of the Professional Bull Riders organization.
On Friday afternoon he attended a luncheon for the 56th semi-annual Ralph Morgan Rodeo in the Rush Hospital private dining room on the third floor of the Ambulatory Care Center.
Following a meal of barbecue beef and beans in Rush Foundation Hospital's private dining room on Friday, Hedeman and some of this weekend's rodeo competitors made their way through the hospital to visit patients.
The rodeo legend, who was the first rider to earn $1 million in 1993, was featured in the 1994 film "8 Seconds," which focused on Hedeman and his friend, the late Lane Frost. Frost was portrayed by Luke Perry, and Hedeman was played by Stephen Baldwin.
The Morgan Mill, Texas, resident has journeyed to the Ralph Morgan Rodeo, that is held every April and August, for four years.
Hedeman, who had to retire from riding following neck surgery, said he enjoys his annual trips to Meridian.
Ralph Morgan, who has organized the two rodeos for 28 years, said Hedeman's presence is a big plus for the semi-annual event.
Hedeman signed autographs and posed for pictures at the Rush Hospital tent during the rodeo's opening night. The first 100 ticket holders received autograph t-shirts from Hedeman.
The rodeo, which concludes tonight, draws a large crowd thanks to the former rider's presence.
The rodeo features competitions in bareback riding, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, and barrel racing. Nearly 200 athletes from states throughout the Southeast compete in the events. There is also a calf scramble for children.
Admission to the rodeo, which begins at 8 p.m., costs $10 for adults and $6 for children age 12 and under.