Meet Dream Kid Joseph, one of the toughest cowboys we’ve ever met!
Joseph Sanford is a 10-year-old referred to us from Levine Children’s Hospital. He has battled Sickle Cell Anemia his entire life resulting in multiple surgeries, over 30 blood transfusions, and a pump to control his iron overload. However, the impact his condition has had on his life goes even further than just his health. Joseph and his family are originally from Baton Rouge, LA. His mom learned that there was a doctor at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte that has had success with a new treatment. In November of 2015, she made the decision to move her and Joseph to take advantage of the opportunity. The two of them have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House while his dad continues to work and live in Baton Rouge. It has been hard for Joseph to be separated from his dad as they are extremely close, but his dad tries to fly in to see him as much as possible.
On May 12th of this year, Joseph received a stem cell transplant and his body seems to be responding great to it! His doctors continue to monitor his improving immune system and cell counts, but Joseph is known to be a true fighter. He is an eternal optimist, one of the most loving young men you’d ever meet and an honor student. Joseph is a gentleman with the best manners around and loves his family.
His interests are like many other 10-year-olds. He enjoys watching TV and movies, playing games on his phone, and playing baseball. However, none of these compare to his interest in professional bull riding! He loves all things rodeo, his favorite movie is 8 Seconds, and he even knows all the best bulls in the circuit, often quoting their stats and successes. Although there are hundreds of professional bull riders, Joseph’s favorite is JB Mauney who happens to be ranked 3rd in the world. Just like his hero, Joseph is a winner and truly a real life cowboy! Joseph enjoys watching bull riding and wants to one day be a World Champion Bull Rider. Although he’s had to deal with pain all his life that doesn’t stop him from loving the toughest sport on dirt.
Joseph’s sports hero, JB Mauney, is a 29-year-old professional bull rider from Charlotte, NC and he won the PBR World Championship in both 2013 and 2015. Not only is he one of the best bull riders in the world to earn his spot as Joseph’s sports hero, but they both share a toughness and resilient nature that bonds them together. Mom has shared that a normal childhood has been difficult due to the amount of pain the disease has caused. Often you will hear bull riders described as “gunslingers” or “dragon slayers,” their determination and fight is essential to being a successful bull rider. Joseph possesses this same attitude towards his disease and will not stop fighting despite his challenges over the years. He might not be a professional bull rider yet, but Joseph is still a star in our book.
Joseph’s Dream is “to meet JB Mauney and watch him compete.” His Dream Experience is being sponsored by the Beers and Burpees Charity Event, a CrossFit event hosted by 12 local CrossFit gyms in Charlotte and organized by Mike Dascal.
On Friday, September 16, 2016, Joseph thought it was just another day of going to Levine Children’s Hospital for his treatment. Little did he know that the Dream Team was waiting downstairs in the Ryan Seacrest Studio to surprise him. Joseph knew that a “sneak attack” was coming, but he wasn’t quite sure when it would be. After receiving his treatment on Friday, Joseph rode down the elevator with his mom and dad, who flew in from Baton Rouge for the weekend. When he arrived in the lobby he found Brandon Lindsey, founder and CEO of Dream On 3, waiting to tell him his dream was about to come true, but the surprises didn’t stop there! Joseph’s big brother had also come into town with his children to surprise Joseph on his Dream Experience weekend. They hadn’t seen each other in months and even after all the other surprises Joseph got this weekend he said that getting to see his family was the best part for him. Brandon told Joseph that everyone that was there was a member of his team and they were all behind him to cheer him on and support him. Joseph then learned that he was going to meet his sports hero, JB Mauney, that night at The Professional Bull Riders Charlotte Invitational and also attend the event both Friday and Saturday. However, you can’t be a great cowboy without the proper attire so our friends at The Boot Barn helped us outfit Joseph in not one, but two, outfits complete with a hat, chaps, and boots. To finish off his look we provided Joseph with a customized belt buckle made specially for his Dream Experience. After a whirlwind of surprises Joseph and his family were off in their limo to The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte!
Friday evening Joseph and his family attended the PBR Charlotte Invitational. Before the event started Joseph had another “sneak attack,” but this time it was from JB Mauney. He and Joseph spent time talking about bull riding and JB’s most memorable rides. At the end of their visit JB gave Joseph a replica of his World Championship belt buckle! During his behind the scenes tour Joseph got to meet several other bull riders and for each one he had the same question: “What do I need to do to be a rider?” Joseph has some big goals and we think this Dream Experience gave him even more inspiration to reach for them. Saturday was another full day for Joseph and it started by attending the IMAX movie at the Discovery Place in Charlotte. For lunch that day Joseph and his family went to Whisky River and Joseph even got to try out their mechanical bull! He already looked like a professional up there so we expect to see him on the next PBR circuit. That evening was another trip to the PBR Charlotte Invitational to enjoy the competition again. Joseph consistently had the biggest smile on his face throughout his entire Dream Experience and was very gracious to everyone. It was only fitting that the toughest cowboy we know got to live out his dream with the toughest sport on dirt!
Full-Length Video by Tim Helms
Photos by Grant Maginnis Photography – click below to view the full album
His sports dream is to meet JB Mauney and watch him compete!
Joseph was referred to us by our referral partner, Levine Children’s Hospital.