When East Village-based public relations expert Andrew Giangola was asked to represent Professional Bull Riders (PBR) in 2015, he felt like a fish out of water. “I’m from New York. I ride the subway, not horseback,” he told the Post. “Suddenly I found myself surrounded by cattle and guys named Cody and Chase. But as soon as I went to my first event, I knew it was for me.
As an urban underdog, Giangola suddenly had a front row seat to one of the most dangerous organized sports in the world. Riders – who only get paid if they stay on the bull for at least eight seconds – are regularly knocked down and sometimes seriously injured. “In the background, there is the constant specter of palpable danger,” he says. “The whole experience is intoxicating.”
While visiting the bull riders on their traveling tour, Giangola began jotting down crazy anecdotes and cowboy quotes in his notebook. He soon realized he had a book in his hands. Thus “Love and Try: Stories of Gratitude and Grit from Professional Bull Riding”, an “all-American celebration of faith, freedom and homeland”, was born.
The real purpose of “Love and Try” are the people behind the sport. Giangola tells the stories of about 30 PBR employees – including the riders themselves, the people who raise the bulls, the rodeo doctor and the guy who brings the dirt that covers the floor of the ring.
“There are so many worthy characters in this sport – hard-working men and women with a brave and refreshing attitude,” he says. “I hope readers will eventually fall in love with these people like me.”
Take the story of Jerome and Tiffany, for example. When they were a young couple, Jerome was thrown over the head by a bull and instantly paralyzed. During his hospitalization, the doctor told him that it was inevitable that his new girlfriend would leave him. And yet, decades later, they are still so in love with a family and a farm where they raise bulls together.
“They raise them like their children,” says Giangola. “Animal care is such an important part of the sport, and I wanted to disabuse people of the common misconception that bulls are abused.” In fact, while the average bull bred for food is slaughtered at age 3, riding bulls often die naturally on the ranch after retiring from competition.
More than anything, Giangola, who donates his profits to pay medical bills for injured runners, wanted to share the courage of the sport with readers. “Riding is the goal, of course, but it’s really a book about values,” he says. “I hope readers will eventually fall in love with these hardy, resilient, hard-working people — and I think America wants and needs to rediscover those values.”
New York Post