Takota McAllister has a special friendship with Colby Demo, a professional bull rider who grew up in Gerber, has close attachments to Corning and will be competing in the Red Bluff Round-Up this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Tehama District Fairgrounds.

This friendship between 9-year-old McAllister and Demo is not just any friendship, but a special one.

McAllister was born prematurely. His lungs do not work correctly; he’s on oxygen around the clock, and he has an immune deficiency that limits how much he can be in public. His mom, Christina McAllister, home schools him to keep him away from the germs that can be found in school. Any infection he gets could be detrimental to his health.

But McAllister loves to be out with his friend, Demo, and often when he is, he has to wear his oxygen tank in a backpack.

McAllister loves rodeo, and met Demo at a rodeo in Oregon. Demo had McAllister help him get ready to ride a bull, and when Demo won the bull riding, he gave the buckle to the little cowboy.

They were fast friends. Demo and his buddies stop by to see McAllister if they’re in the area. McAllister and his mom travel to Demo’s rodeos when they’re close, and a few months ago, Demo and his friends took the boy snowboarding.

McAlister is all about rodeo and the western lifestyle, his mom said.

“We bought him his first pair of Wranglers (jeans),” she said. “He wants to be a cowboy, 100 percent. He doesn’t leave home without his cowboy hat.”

McAllister loves his rodeo friends, and Demo enjoys him.

“If he’s willing to learn and be a part of rodeo, we’ll give him all the attention in the world,” Demo said. “We’ll let him see all the fun parts of rodeo.”

The youngster loves the sport so much, he doesn’t enjoy sitting with the spectators anymore, but wants to be behind the chutes where the real action is.

“He always tells me he doesn’t want to sit in the stands,” Demo said. “He wants to be in the back, where everything’s going on.”

Demo said he has learned life lessons from the boy.

“Being around Takota has really humbled me up about a lot of stuff,” he said. “There are things I’d be stressed out about that I had no control over. There’s no sense to stress out about it because things can always be worse.”

The boy has also caused Demo to change his perspective on life. 

“If he’s smiling then I should be smiling because there’s nobody going through what he’s gone through,” he said.

And when Demo rides in Red Bluff, his young friend will be in the stands, cheering him on.

The Round-Up will be April 19-21 at the Tehama District Fairgrounds. Performances begin at 7 p.m. on April 19, at 2:30 p.m. on April 20 and at 1:30 p.m. on April 21. Tickets range in price from $14 to $30, with a handling fee, and can be purchased online at www.RedBluffRoundup.com or at the gate. For more information, visit the website or call the Round-Up office at 527-1000.

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