Going from tragedy to triumph
Re-2 school board member Brock Hedberg never expected the keynote speaker at a veterinarian conference in San Diego to change his outlook on life, but after hearing her story he knew she had to come out to western Garfield County to speak.
“I was so inspired I knew I had to get her here because our youth need to hear her message,” he said at a Board of Education meeting in April.
So on Friday, Rifle will welcome inspirational speaker Amberley Snyder as she encourages children and adults to always “get back on the horse” despite the challenges life may have in store.
At age 18 in 2009, Snyder won the National Little Britches Rodeo Association All-Around Cowgirl World Championship.
A few months later she was in a traffic accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors told her she would never walk again.
Her top priority was to ride her horse again — a goal her doctors told her was impossible.
Eighteen months later, she was back on her horse and continues to compete in barrel racing.
“We are all going to face challenges in life, but we all have the strength inside us to overcome it,” she said. “To be in a wheelchair every morning is not easy, but I keep going, and my goals have not changed.”
By 2009, Snyder was elected the Utah FFA state president and had her sights set on college as she prepared to give her FFA farewell address.
On Jan. 10, 2010, she was ejected from her vehicle in a rollover crash and lost the use of her legs. From that day on she knew her speech, as with her daily life, must change and adapt forever.
“I had a whole speech written and wrecked not even a month later,” she said. “When I gave that first speech I knew I was in a position to inspire others. I went from giving a speech to living a speech.”
Since that first farewell address, Snyder has inspired thousands across America by telling her story at rodeos and conferences, anywhere from elementary schools up to corporations. In May 2015 she graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in counseling.
She is now at the point where she is giving speeches at least once a week and has spoken in more than 30 states. Her goal is to get to all 50.
“It’s been a roller coaster with plenty of ups and downs, but with the support from home I keep up and keep going,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of great people along the way and hear incredible stories everywhere I go.”
Snyder will be speaking at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1400 Birch Ave. in Rifle at 7 p.m. Friday. There will also be a meet and greet Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Hy-Way Feed & Ranch Supply in Silt.
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