The cowboy’s will to survive is legendary. The diligent cowboy of the open range herded cattle and wrangled horses with a sense of determination. Their moral code of self preservation kept them alive in harsh elements that most would succumb to in our modern society. Today, the legend of the cowboy lives in the hearts of those who keep these values as a way of living. Being a cowboy is something that comes from inside us, perhaps even from birth.
When Daric Roberts was born he came out the chute ready to “Cowboy Up. Before his first birthday Daric would undergo four heart surgeries. He wrangled the first two when he was only a month old. Daric rode out the third surgery at six months when doctors discovered he had coarctation of the aorta, which at the time no child had lived out of utero with this condition! During this surgery his vocal chords were damaged while his carotid artery was being repaired. He went under the knife one more time before turning a year old, and again on May 27th, 2014. Over the years Daric has been diagnosed with: tetralogy of flow, coarctation of the aorta, pulmonary stenosis, Noonan syndrome, West Nile, and viral meningitis, but like the cowboys he’s always admired he fought hard through each struggle and persevered.
The anatomical abnormalities of the heart that Daric has herded over the past 19 years haven’t deterred him from his goals, and if anything they’ve inspired him to cowboy up even more. Tetralogy of flow is a congenital heart defect, while coarctation of the aorta is the aortic narrowing. Pulmonary stenosis is a dynamic or fixed obstruction of flow from the ventricle of the heart to the pulmonary artery. This condition was known by his doctors early on and eventually led to his surgery this past May. At 13 Daric began taking growth hormones to speed up the inevitable pulmonic surgery he had last month. It was at this time that doctors discovered he had Noonan syndrome. Noonan syndrome are physical features that are typically associated with the effects of congenital heart defects. During the summer of 2012 Daric contracted West Nile and viral meningitis, and although it wasn’t related to his heart defects the viruses did take a toll on the cowboy’s heart.
Like most kids growing up in southern Okla. Daric was no stranger to livestock, such as cattle and horses. Around six years of age Daric fell in love with the movie 8 Seconds. Most kids at this age were watching cartoons and playing G.I. Joes while Daric was roping relatives with any material that would tie a knot. Cowboys and rodeo stars like Layne Frost would eventually become his inspiration to follow his goals of working with horses. Daric recently graduated from Lindsey High School. For three years he showed pigs with the Garvin County Junior Livestock 4H where charitable donations from companies like Great Plains helped support his extracurricular activity. Furthering his dreams to work on a ranch with horses, Daric studied equine science at the Mid-America Technology Center in Wayne, Okla. Daric’s most recent heart surgery was a huge success. He’s still in recovery, but the rate at which he’s doing so has astonished everyone. Before the surgery he wasn’t worried because he knew it had to be done. In fact, he was more worried about loosing the 12 hairs that were shaved from his chest during preparations than the actual procedure. Now that he’s graduated and successfully completed his fifth heart surgery the open range awaits.
Daric is a fun loving young man who has a deep family bond and will hardly be caught indoors. As an outdoorsman he loves to hunt and fish. This love eventually lead him to join a non-profit organization for people with disabilities called the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach, or Triple O. Daric has enjoyed many hunts with the Triple O, including one where he harvested a large mature buck in Michigan, but his favorite hunt is the youth turkey hunt the group hosts every spring. This great group of volunteers has connect him and his family with others, while sharing the joy of the outdoors. Daric’s mom Kalaugha Sorrels commented on their involvement.
“The Triple O has touched our family. It’s allowed Daric to meet and befriend others that have struggled with health issues. This interaction has impacted both the lives of Daric and the people he’s met along the way. The Triple O is a huge confidence builder. The volunteers allow opportunities for the members to experience that would never be possible,” said Sorrels.
A week before his last surgery Daric met with a couple of his cowboy favorites, Cord and Jet McCoy at a commercial shoot for the new Great Plains Edmond. Here the three enjoyed small talk, and discussed when Daric might hop on one of Cord’s bulls.
Being a cowboy can mean many different things. It’s a profession, a way of life, or for some a way to dress. For Daric Roberts it starts in his heart, a heart that beats to a rhythm of the not so distant past where honest hard working men of the open range never gave up. Perhaps a cowboy’s heart is the key to survival and the inspiration to do what’s right in life?
From the Spring 2014 issue of Great Plains living. For more information about this publication visit: