story by Siri Stevens Addison Gautreaux lives on a 4th generation farm outside Opelousas, Louis., where she is surrounded by cattle and horses, but once […]
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Meet the Members Luke & Grace Dubois
story by Michele Toberer
Luke Dubois has been taking on rodeo with a focus and determination like never before; despite the diagnosis he received in December that he has a low-grade glioma brain stem tumor, he has chosen to go full-steam ahead, doing everything he normally would do and more, until something prevents him from being able to. This drive to make the most of every rodeo opportunity has resulted in incredible results for the 15-year-old, Church Point, Louisiana 8th grader, and his 13-year-old sister, Grace. The two just earned world champion status as the NJHFR National Champion Ribbon Roping Team, finishing three rounds with a 25.5 second average time. “The tumor has made me come into the perspective that every day is a blessing, and every day that you can do what you want to do is a blessing from God. I’ve been trying to not take anything for granted. My dad and I talked about it, and we said we’re not going to let off the gas until something major has to happen.”
Luke and Grace are the two eldest children of parents, Jeanne and Shel Dubois, and they are a great example of determination and resolve for their four younger siblings, Faith, 11, John David, 9, Gabe, 6, and Clay, 4. The close-knit family owns Cajun Custom Saddles, Tack and Horse Training, where their dad makes a living training rope horses and starting colts, and their mom is busy keeping all of their children on a schedule of homeschooling and rodeo practice. This was Luke’s third year competing in the LJHSRA, and Grace’s rookie year. Grace was grateful to not only be Luke’s ribbon roping partner this past year, but his team roping partner as well. They were just one spot out of qualifying for nationals in team roping, but were the LJHSRA 2018 Reserve Champion Ribbon Ropers, and Luke was also the LJHSRA 2018 All-Around Champion Cowboy, qualifying for nationals in ribbon roping, goat tying, tie-down roping and chute dogging.
Luke’s parents have been determined this year to give Luke every opportunity to rope that they could, and it has proven to have paid off. He won a Dodge truck at a Fire It Up Productions Roping in May, had much success at the state finals, and besides his ribbon roping title at nationals, he also won the National Reserve Champion All-Around Cowboy title, missing the champion title by just 5-points. Luke won a round in the tie-down roping and came into the NJHFR short round in 2nd place in the aggregate, but his calf ran through his loop knocking him down in the average, still ending up 17th in the world. He was also in the short round in chute dogging, where he ended up 4th in the world.
The horse that Luke rode, Smart Jack Lena, is a 13-year-old, blaze-faced sorrel that he and his dad have both trained. He was Shel’s heel horse before they started training him to be a calf horse for Luke 3-years ago. “Jack runs hard, stops hard and is good for fast set-ups, but when he’s not working he’s like a puppy dog, I let my youngest brother ride him all over, he’s a really good horse.”
Grace and Luke watched each of their calves they had drawn and came to the arena with a game plan of how Luke would try to rope each calf. Shel pushed their calves, and Eric Aymond stood with him in the box while Luke focused on roping sharp and getting to the calf as quickly as possible, so he could hold it still for Grace to grab the ribbon. When the final team finished, and the siblings knew they had won, Luke said there was a hundred things going through his mind, but he was glad to see his sister so happy as they high-fived in celebration. “This was the first saddle Grace has ever won, I was pretty excited for her, I was pretty excited for us!”
Both Grace and Luke look forward to college rodeo one day, and while Grace hopes to become a veterinarian, Luke hopes to make a living as a professional roper, one day earning titles at the NFR.
Grace and Luke both appreciate all the help they get from their family, Jeremy Landry, and Uncle Polo Bacque. Grace finished by saying, “None of this would be possible without my mom, dad, and God.”