Jason Cundiff III, 26, is one tough cowboy! Better known as "Fuzz," a nickname given to him by a babysitter when he was an infant, he has endured a couple of obstacles in the last two years, which includes two hip replacements as a result of his severe arthritis in both hips.
Cundiff is 5-11 tall and weighed 260 pounds, he is big and strong. But his hips and legs have been crippled by severe arthritis. He had no choice but to be home-schooled the final months of his senior year. Hating school was no secret at all and would be glad when it was over.
After graduation Cundiff was clueless, like the rest of his classmates, on the next step he must make. It took him a little while to figure out that he could drive a big truck. After graduation, Cundiff pursued getting a Commercial Drivers License (CDL).
Once he got his CDL, he drove a cement mixer truck for Ronnie Wray, the proprietor of Rocky Mount Ready-Mix. This is how he earned a living. Then he changed jobs and drove for Jeff DeLong at J&J Excavating and Hauling. He was on the road for 20 hours a day. It was non-stop and wore him out driving a "bull wagon"(a truck used to haul cattle). He felt kinda like down and out during that time.
Eight years since his graduation, Cundiff admitted that he was not thrilled with what life has presented him to the point that there are times it was miserable. He got bored to death of of his job, was not married, and still living home with his parents, Jason and Pat Cundiff.
Looking at his choices, he knew that he had to move out of his parent's house, get a place of his own,and give college a chance. And that's what he exactly did.
Cundiff, looking for direction, seek the advice of Carol Swindell, his homebound high school teacher. Like his friend, Allison Brewer, he was enrolled in an ag program at Odessa Junior College in Texas. In addition to regular courses, Odessa J.C. offered courses that involves horses, including rodeo. The college is nationally-known for its sports programs but perhaps even better known for the program built by Jim Watkins, a now retired rodeo coach.
In addition to attending required courses, Cundiff got involved with the rodeo team. Cundiff had ridden horses since he as was a child, as his family owned a few of them. He returned to Franklin County to fetch his horses. An 8-year-old Quarter horse named "Stringbean," and a 15- year-old Quarter horse known as "Playboy."
Cundiff took English, algebra, and game skills with horses. He came out with a 3.66 grade point average. He competed in the college's rodeo competition in the steer roping event. He placed fourth overall in an 18-college regional event together with his roping partner.
Unfortunately, the pain in his hips became excruciating. Without a choice he decided to put his college degree on hold, he still lacked four classes in order to receive his diploma. He returned home to Glade Hill to receive the first of two artificial hip replacement operations. It was on September 21, 2009, performed by Dr. Moskal of Roanoke Orthopedic. It went far better than he ever anticipated.
It was also the same doctor who performed his second operation on May 25. Cundiff recalled that three weeks later, he was able to walk without any assistance. In June 8, Cundiff went back to see his surgeon for a routine checkup. He is expected to be released from his doctor on July 6. The good doctor told him that he'd be able to live a normal life once again after eight years.
Cundiff started his therapy and plans on returning to Odessa to complete work on the four remaining courses he needs to finish his course and get his diploma. If all things go well he said that he will get a degree in ag business at the end of the fall semester.
He said that he will be working while going to school during the day. He plans to work in construction or doing cowboy stuff. He returned to riding horses after his first operation and knows everything will be a walk in the park after the second operation mends.
There are a couple of things now that Cundiff is sure about:
Cundiff's first agenda is to move from Franklin County and make the Lone Star State his new home. He is planning on staying either in Van Horn, which is 180 miles west Odessa, or Stephenville, which is four hours east.
His second agenda is earning his diploma. He and his friend are planning on going into a venture installing water wells and lines, along with repairing windmills. He said that there is a big demand for water in the desert.
If things don't work out along the way he planned it, Cundiff says he can always resort to using his CDL license. Driving one of the many trucks hauling oil from the wells in Texas is another opportunity that awaits him.
Cundiff thanks his mom for all the good things that have happened to him in the last eight years.
He said that she believed in him 500 percent in every decision he's made. She's always been behind him ready to give him a helping hand. Now that the operation worked pretty well, he dropped about 50 pounds and plan on losing some more to be in better shape and enjoy the life he's been searching for all his life.