Guest editorial: Oakley didn’t quit on the rodeo. But it should have.
In the article about moving forward with the scheduling of the Oakley Rodeo over the Fourth of July weekend in the May 30 edition of The Park Record, the mayor of Oakley, Wade Woolstenhulme, is quoted as saying this of the need to hold the rodeo: “We’ve never been a city that’s a bunch of quitters.”
The rodeo will allow 850 spectators each night and may attract spectators from out of the county. Woolstenhulme also states in this article that he’s worked in education his whole life and says, “I’ve been around 400 kids every day of my life, and I’ve had them spit in my face, breathe in my face … for the first few years I was (sick constantly). But you know what, I got through it.” This sounds to me like he thinks recovering from a cold virus 20 to 30 years ago is the same as recovering from the coronavirus.
Who is Woolstenhulme referring to as “quitters?” Are the quitters people who follow the directives given by our Health Department officials to wear masks when you go outside your home, and to continue to socially distance to help prevent the spread of the virus? These directives are meant to save lives! Do Woolstenhulme’s quitters also include the doctors and nurses who, after working 18-hour days, don’t hug their spouses and children when they get home because they don’t know if they were infected at work that day while trying to save lives? Many health care workers would never attend this rodeo event and expose themselves to thousands of people, some of whom will be shedding the virus, so therefore they are quitters.
The article also mentions that a woman spoke at the Oakley City Council meeting in which the decision to hold the rodeo was made to voice her concerns about bringing all these people to Oakley and Summit County, and that she is worried that this event will increase the odds she and others in Summit County will contract the virus. Woolstenhulme compassionately told her (even if she maybe just was able to get back to work), that if she’s scared to go to the rodeo she could keep her family home. Obviously Woolstenhulme hasn’t taken to heart that during this pandemic crisis in our country, that we should think about the “we” instead of just “me.” Many groups and organizations have had to make sacrifices and accept the fact that they needed to cancel their event this summer (i.e. Tour of Utah, concerts, art festivals). It’s not about being a quitter — it’s about being concerned about the greater good.
I am currently battling two separate cancer diagnoses, undergoing two chemotherapy treatments and, due to all this, have a weakened immune system. Whenever I go outside my home, I wear a mask and glasses and am extremely diligent about the social distancing recommendations due to their proven benefits. I would never consider sitting in a stadium with 850 strangers eating corndogs (you can’t wear a mask when you eat and drink), so maybe I qualify as a quitter? I hope that Woolstenhulme will tell the city councilors and residents of Oakley, as he dismisses concerns about holding this event, that if he becomes infected, that he’ll just “get over it” like he’s always done and that he’ll commit to staying home to heal himself. That he would never go to a hospital and possibly risk infecting those quitters, doctors and nurses.
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