Cameron Freshman Franklin Is Taking Life by the Horns

CAMERON – Cody Franklin is living his dreams.

While most kids his age are spending time on the computer, playing video games, or letting their thumbs go to work on a smartphone, the vibrant 14-year-old is doing more, let’s say, exciting things.

Things like bull riding, calf roping and other rodeo activities.

Oh, and then there’s elk hunting, too. And that’s just on the weekends.

During the week, the Cameron High School freshman spends his time on the practice field as a member of the Dragons football team.

He’s also getting ready for wrestling season.

Then, next spring, he’ll be out for the track team.

Franklin – all 5-foot, 90 pounds of him – has taken life by the horns, literally, because, frankly, he doesn’t know how much time he’ll have to do the things he wants.

He was born with Cystic Fibrosis.

”He doesn’t let CF get him down,” said his mother, Kay, who said Cody’s projected lifespan at this point is 32. ”He gives 150 percent toward everything he’s ever done.”

And that endeared him to veteran Cameron football coach Jim Rogers right away.

”I love little guys … always have,” Rogers said. ”I still have a penny in my wallet given to me by Chad Burge, a three-time state champion wrestler.

”I’ve always been for the small guy.”

Rogers was a fan of Franklin’s from the first time he saw him on the football field. But when Rogers learned Franklin liked to participate in rodeos, well, Rogers admiration grew to one of great respect.

”At 90 pounds, he’s out there riding bulls and horses and calf roping and all this other stuff which I admire the heck out of,” he said.

”He’s my inspiration.”

Franklin may be small in stature, but his heart and determination dwarf all of that.

”I’ve always been involved in ‘regular’ sports, but I tried it once and I liked it,” Cody said of the rodeo.

”I was on a horse before I could walk. I was still in diapers.”

Cody’s parents were active in rodeos at one time and they introduced him to the rodeo atmosphere.

Immediately, he was hooked.

”A buddy of ours was team pinning and working with cattle and we had Cody, who was about a year old,” Kay Franklin said. ”We put him on a pony. We bought him his first pony when he was about 3-years-old and he’s been riding ever since.”

That early exposure to rodeos has paid off as Cody’s room is now littered with a plethora of trophies, buckles and other mementoes from a successful career.

Currently, Cody is third in all-around points in his age division as a member of the Western Pennsylvania Youth Rodeo Association.

Rodeo events include pole bending, barrel racing, team roping, tie down calf roping, chute doggin, steer riding and bull riding.

”My parents are glad I do it,” Cody said. ”They like it.”

But it wasn’t always that way.

”It wasn’t easy,” Kay Franklin acknowledged. ”He wears all the protective gear and we keep him as safe as we possibly can.

”I didn’t know he was doing it and the next thing I know he’s bull riding. I used to get sick to my stomach, but it’s gotten easier.”

Cody Franklin started with steers and then graduated to bulls. And not special youth bulls, either.

”No, they’re regular size, about 2,000 pounds,” he said smiling.

Eight seconds doesn’t seem like much to the normal person, but for a bull rider, it’s an eternity and the pinnacle of the endeavor.

”I’ve done that a lot of times,” Cody Franklin said.

But success hasn’t come without a cost.

”I broke three ribs about (four) months ago,” he said.

That’s nothing compared to the ongoing CF treatments, which have become part of Cody Franklin’s daily routine. His mother said Cody, who was diagnosed at birth, has treatments twice a day, is on 12 medications and goes to Pittsburgh every two months to see doctors.

But one wouldn’t notice by talking to him. He’s simply your typical teenager.

”I just want to let everyone know that even though life throws you a curveball you don’t have to give up,” Kay Franklin said. ”You can do anything you want in life, you just have want it and not give up.”