HARRISBURG, Pa. — It may have been just another rodeo for 19-year-old Cassidy Portman, but for her rodeo wrangler boyfriend Alex Kuhl, this was a day he wanted his best girl to remember.
During the first performance of the Pennsylvania High School Rodeo at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Jan. 5, 20-year-old Kuhl proposed.
With a diamond tucked tightly in his pocket, Kuhl got down on one knee in the middle of the Equine Arena and asked Portman to marry him. She said yes, but there’s more to this love story.
Kuhl was bull riding at the farm show in January 2009, when he was bucked and left unconscious. He was rushed to Penn State Hershey Medical Center for treatment.
When he awoke the next morning, he had a Facebook message from a Lancaster County girl — Cassidy.
An avid fan, Cassidy was watching the rodeo live on TV. When she saw that Kuhl got hurt, she decided to send him a Facebook message to see if he was OK.
They kept the conversation going, and went on their first date, Sept. 7, 2009. Since then, she has been to every rodeo Alex has ridden in, except one.
That day, however, he had another accident. Alex was set to compete in the 2011 National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyo. But before leaving, he broke his arm while bull riding, knocking him out of the competition.
There have been a lot of ups and downs for this couple, but Alex says Cassidy is his rock.
“She has always been there for me,” he said. “Whenever I had to have surgery, she was there to encourage me. When I could not compete in Wyoming, she helped me through the disappointment. I really appreciate her support.”
Alex knew Cassidy was the girl for him, so he figured the best place to begin the rest of his life with her, was where it first began, at the Farm Show Rodeo. He thought it would be a perfect way to share the moment with thousands of people in the stands and on TV.
He contacted the president of the High School Rodeo Association and told them about his plan. They decided the bull riding event would be the best time to set up the ruse.
After three bull riders competed, the rodeo announcer stopped the action for a dance competition, in which Cassidy competed. She and two other girls were called down into the arena, and she was the last one standing when Alex appeared out of the bull chutes.
He caught her eye as he walked to the center of the arena, got down on one knee, and asked for her hand in marriage.
Cassidy shrieked with surprise as the arena erupted in applause.
“It was a surprise, I have been around the Farm Show and the Rodeo, so they know who I am. I thought it was some sort of joke,” Portman said.
“I knew he was planning something, but I really did not think it would be this.”