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Lifelong cowboy gets final wish of seeing horse one last time

He’s ridden and owned horses his entire life, until he was forced to sell his last one two years ago when he forgot how to saddle up.
Steve Roop is a lifelong cowboy suffering from Lewy Body Dementia who got the chance to see a...
Steve Roop is a lifelong cowboy suffering from Lewy Body Dementia who got the chance to see a horse one last time.(Source: WBTV)
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 6:07 AM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - It’s been a while since Steve Roop really looked like himself.

The 66-year-old Rock Hill man has Lewy Body Dementia, a ruthless and fast-moving disease that attacks the body and mind.

But Friday afternoon, glimpses of Steve started shining through as he squeezed his feet into his beloved stitched leather cowboy boots.

“You feel overwhelmed?” his caretaker Harriet Hicks asked as she proceeded to place a wide brimmed hat on Steve’s head. “It’s okay to cry.”

Just like that the lifelong cowboy almost looked like his former self.

“I can’t lie; it’s been very difficult, but we make it through it,” Steve’s wife Dana said.

Steve was diagnosed in December and by January hospice was called in to help Dana care for her declining spouse. She’s quickly watched pieces of her husband of 29 years fade away.

“He’s never complained. Not one time he’s complained,” Dana said.

Steve’s love for Dana, however, is still very much alive.

“There’s nothing to say about her because I can’t,” he says through tears. “I can’t find the words for her. She’s the most kind and giving woman that you could ask for.”

Dana is always by Steve’s side, but she’s grateful for the much-needed help the hospice team at Providence Care in Rock Hill provides.

Caretakers and nurses like Harriet quickly became family, and family knows how much Steve loves horses.

He’s ridden and owned horses his entire life until he was forced to sell his last one two years ago when he forgot how to saddle up.

So, Harriet decided he needed to be face-to-face with one, one last time. It wasn’t on the sprawling farm Steve and Dana once owned in Virginia. Instead, it was on the front yard of their suburban home, surrounded by the people who love them.

Harriet pushed Steve’s wheelchair out of the garage as a beautiful paint pony was led up his driveway. His eyes filled with tears as he stroked his soft muzzle, the first time he’d done so in two years.

“It’s just such a blessing to be able to touch other people’s lives, especially when they’re at their end of life,” Harriet said.

This type of goodbye isn’t a first for the team at Providence Care. They’ve done this for years, throwing a “best day” for many of their clients nearing the end.

“Just that we’ve made an impact and that’s what it’s all about,” volunteer coordinator Tracy Anderson said.

Dana cherished this day as she does every one she has left with Steve.

“You don’t take things for granted anymore. You’re grateful for the birds singing and the sunshine and I look forward to spending the day with my husband,” she said.

But this day was extra special.

“I don’t know how many days I’ve got left here. It may be a lifetime, who knows,” Steve laughed.

And even if it isn’t, a cowboy was able to hold onto the lead rope once again, before it’s his time to saddle up and ride away.

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