Dusty Duba received the attention of the national rodeo community last month when he shaved his head to raise money for childhood cancer research. He’s also known in Ramona’s rodeo community because he lived in Ramona until moving to Texas in late December.
“Ramona’s always going to be special,” Duba said.
One reason Ramona will be special — and the reason Duba lived in Ramona — is that he is married to a former Miss Rodeo Ramona he met at the Ramona Rodeo in 2005. Although Kayla Duba accompanied her husband to Texas, she remains on Ramona’s rodeo committee.
Duba came to what was then called the Ramona Roundup Rodeo once in the 1990s to fill in as a bullfighter.
“It was kind of a weird story to go back 10 years later and meet your wife there,” he said.
In 2005 Duba was working with Honeycutt Rodeo, which still provides stock for the Ramona Rodeo. Duba started his multi-town tour with Honeycutt in Ramona. Kayla Spurlock had advanced from her Miss Rodeo Ramona title to Miss Rodeo California for 2005, and she met Duba at that year’s Ramona Rodeo.
“It worked out wonderful,” Dusty Duba said.
Dusty and Kayla Duba were married on Sept. 13, 2008.
Although they initially lived in Ramona, the move to a small Texas town outside of Weatherford allows Duba to be closer to more rodeos.
“We kind of decided to branch out,” he said.
Duba, who grew up in southeastern Nebraska, has been a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bullfighter for 17 years.
He spent two years as a bareback rider and bull rider while also fighting bulls.
“I was just average,” he said of his competitive career.
As a rider he only faced one bull during a specific rodeo. As a bullfighter he can face dozens of bulls.
“It appealed to me a little bit more,” he said. “It kind of suited me a little better.”
Although Duba has not worked the California Circuit finals as a bullfighter, he has worked the Great Lakes Circuit finals twice and the Prairie Circuit finals once. He has protected bull riders during rodeos in 38 states.
Duba also worked in seven Spanish cities last September during a five-week European rodeo tour. His wife competed in Barrel Racing while they were in Spain.
“It was quite an experience,” Duba said.
In March 2010 Duba met eight-year-old cancer patient Lauren Terry at the Laughlin River Stampede. Duba and Honeycutt Rodeo returned to Laughlin the following month for the Seminole Hard Rock Xtreme Bulls Competition.
Roy Honeycutt agreed to shave his head to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Research Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research. Duba joined the shearing after Terry made that request to the bullfighter.
“She asked me if I was tough enough,” Duba said. “It’s hard to turn down a pretty young girl in that kind of situation.”
By the time of the rodeo the shaved heads had raised more than $8,000 in pledges to St. Baldrick’s in the name of Honeycutt or Duba. Additional money was raised during the bull riding. The willingness of Duba and Honeycutt to shave their heads has been recounted in national rodeo magazines as well as the PRCA’s weekly news release.
“It kind of turned out to be a widespread notification,” Duba said.
Although Duba is now a former Ramona resident, the Ramona Rodeo will remain one of his favorites.
“Ramona’s been a good rodeo for so many years. We’d just like to continue that,” he said.