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"There Is No Future In Giving Up"

Subject of Netflix's "Walk. Ride. Rodeo." Film Delivers Inspirational Speech

Mike Motz, Sidney Sun-Telegraph

Sidney High School held an assembly on March 15, and Amberley Snyder addressed the students in attendance with an inspirational message of perseverance and hope, no matter what challenges life puts in your way.

Snyder came to nationwide prominence a few years ago when Netflix adapted her life story into a film. Snyder, the daughter of former Major League Baseball player Cory Snyder, grew up on a ranch and started to ride horses at the age of 3. She started competing in rodeo barrel racing at the age of 7 and continued to compete in barrel racing, pole bending and breakaway roping. In 2009, she won the All-Around Cowgirl World Championship at the National Little Britches Rodeo Association, which allows children from age 5 through 18 to compete in various rodeo events. She was also the 2009-2010 Utah State FFA President.

Snyder was an up-and-coming star in the rodeo world when she was traveling to the National Western Stock Show in Denver on January 10. She had stopped for fuel in Rawlins, WY., and neglected to re-fasten her seat belt when continuing her trip. She said that she always wore her seatbelt, but had a bit of a stomach ache and was feeling uncomfortable. A few miles after she resumed her trip, she drifted in the other lane while checking her map, over-corrected, and her pickup truck slid off of the highway and rolled 7 times. She was thrown from the truck and slammed into a fence post, crushing her T-12 vertebra and leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

She then began the difficult process of rehabilitation, with a very clear goal; "Walk. Ride. Rodeo." Before very long, with the help of physical therapy and a seat belt on her saddle, she was able to ride again and, within a year and a half, she was competing in rodeo events again.

Snyder started her presentation by showing projected slides of "social experiments" she has done, mainly by tipping over her wheelchair and laying on the ground to see if people would help. As the slides progressed, it became noticeable that the more people that were in the area, the less likely an individual would step up to help her. She called it the "bystander effect", a natural human tendency to believe that someone else would rise to action, or to look to others to help first. She then talked about the importance of not only being willing to help, but to ask for help when necessary. She ended the lesson on the "bystander effect" by saying, "Never be afraid, or too stubborn, to ask for help. And realize that through helping, every person has the power to change another's life. The power to be a hero."

She then told the crowd how she went from an up-and-coming rodeo star who had just graduated high school with a 4.0 grade point average and had her whole life ahead of her, to getting into an accident that completely changed her life. Her life became focused on a series of obstacles to overcome, with the goal of walking and riding and participating in rodeo. She noted that it was important to recognize and accept that in life, you don't get to choose the obstacles you have to overcome, but you do get to choose how to deal with those obstacles and achieve your goals. She also spoke of the importance of breaking down goals into smaller everyday accomplishments to keep you on the path of ultimately achieving your goal.

"One of the coolest things in life is pushing the limit-then going one more step", Snyder said. Often, when battling obstacles to our goals, pushing past our limits can be stressful or even physically painful. Many times, we feel like giving in and quitting. Snyder recounted how when she was learning to ride again, it took many adjustments to get her strapped into the saddle effectively. She couldn't control her horses they way she used to, so more adjustments were made. She got bucked off a horse and injured her face, and more adjustments were made. Out of frustration, she eventually stopped riding for 9 months and told her mother to sell the horses. Fortunately, her mother did not listen, and after some time off and contemplation, she went back to riding. She also figured out how to properly strap herself in the saddle to ride as fast and effectively as possible. The lesson to be learned is "You never realized how close you were to success when you gave up.

She also had some of the student attendees come up to the stage to visually show circumstances that reveal opportunity in was you didn't anticipate, and overcoming obstacles. One demonstration had eight students standing in various places on the stage, representing an obstacle course. One student who had some experience navigating a wheel chair, was given the task of navigating the course, and with some difficulty, nearly completed it. Snyder then talked about his effort while causally navigating the obstacles as if it were second nature and easily completing the course. She then noted that these are the obstacles that she, as someone in a wheelchair, has to navigate constantly. The point being made is when you challenge yourself to overcome obstacles, it becomes easier over time and with experience. More importantly, obstacles create good things and opportunities, and it's up to you to take advantage of opportunities when given the chance. Her final message was very powerful. With all she had in front of her, and with all that was taken away by a twist of fate, it would have been very easy for her to have given up. "Nobody would have blamed me," she said. But giving up cannot be an option in life, no matter how difficult the obstacles become. You must keep fighting, keep focused and keep working towards your goal. "There is no future in giving up."


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