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Valnes: True Grit honoree

Emit Valnes was honored as the 15th Annual Shane Drury “Keeping the Faith/True Grit Award” honoree at Rodeo Rapid City PRCA Bullriding Jan. 29, 2021. He received a bronze of Shane’s arena-record setting ride on River Dance at the PRCA rodeo in Reno, Nevada.

The bronze is sponsored by the sculptor, Jim Maher, Jesse Drury of Road Runner, Inc. and the Use’ta Could Rodeo Association.

Presenting the 2021 award to Emit Valnes was Shane’s brother Jesse Drury.



Prior to June of 2015 Emit was living his perfect life. He and his wife, Jayme were ranching in the beautiful hills of Northeast S.D. They raise purebred Red Angus cattle and performance horses. On the weekends Emit entered the team roping in rodeos throughout the area and was quite successful. He and his partner had just claimed the Minnesota Rodeo Association title the previous year.

On June 6, 2015, life completely turned upside down. Emit and his team roping partner were on their way to a rodeo when they were in a terrible accident. Emit broke his back in two places and ruptured 2 discs in his neck. He spent 7 months in a body brace, and even longer in rehab.



Throughout the long road to recovery, Emit and Jayme never lost their faith in God. Jayme was able to keep the ranch running, but they were forced to sell half their horse herd. Over time Emit was slowly able to start doing more and more and eventually was back to working like his old self. No one would have ever guessed he would be able to get horseback and be competitive again; but he did! And with a whole new outlook on life!

Emit Valnes, of Eden, South Dakota (center) was named the Keeping the Faith/True Grit Award honoree in memory of Shane Drury for 2021 Also pictured, Jayme Valnes (left) and aware presenter Jesse Drury (right). Photo courtesy Keeping the Faith/True Grit Award

The comeback was not overnight. It took him years to get back to roping like he used to. In the meantime, he started helping others along the way. He has spent time as a successful college rodeo coach and has become more involved in the rodeo associations he competes in.

Emit is not only a great competitor but a great person. You may never see him without a smile on his face, in victory or defeat. His comeback story is one that he would never brag about but is one worth recognition.

Shane Drury graduated from Central High School, just across the street. His legacy in the rodeo arena started as a bull rider. He was a college rodeo champion and qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2000. When he was diagnosed with cancer, the grit and determination he showed in the arena became weapons in his battle. He initially won the battle and returned to competition with Gortex patches in his chest to replace ribs that had been removed. Then he was diagnosed again. His love of rodeo saw him in the arena as a judge. Sadly, that career ended when cancer took Shane from us in 2006. His faith, attitude, determination, and perseverance continue to inspire people to this day.

–Shane Drury Keeping the Faith/True Grit Award


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