He is one of the most recognizable figures in San Antonio and at rodeos across the country. Leon Coffee has been entertaining San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo-goers for the last 30 years.
But the big smile has recently turned to pain.
The rodeo clown and bullfighter is on the road to recovery from a bout with bacterial meningitis.
“I feel a whole lot better, it's just getting my strength back,” said Coffee, while he was resting in his recliner at his ranch north of San Antonio.
Coffee started losing the use of his left hand later last year. He performed in the San Antonio rodeo, then the Houston rodeo, then in March, he had spine surgery to correct the problem.
While he was recovering in San Antonio, he collapsed on the floor of his home just after feeding his horses.
He was able to call his wife, who was able to get him to the hospital.
“God made that call,” Coffee said.
He spent six days in the hospital, three of which were in the ICU and, according to his doctor, he is lucky to be alive.
Leon said his doctor told him, "Not too many people come back from where you were.”
Coffee is not only recovering from meningitis but he also has to recover from medical bills.
Coffee admits he is in over his head, but as soon as the word hit Facebook and other avenues, the responses started coming in the form of well-wishers and cash.
Coffee once traveled across the country to give his blood to a cowboy in need. That was in 1986. From that cowboy, he got a card and a check for $500.
He also received $15 from a young lady who included a picture of her and his barrel.
“That was a lot of money in her little piggy bank, I’m sure,” he said.
Coffee said he is used to being the one giving.
“I never expected anything back. I never did it to get something back. I did it because I enjoy doing it," he said.
Those remarks were made while he was wiping the tears from his eyes.
He added, “It’s the most humbling thing I’ve ever had to be a part of.”
Because of mounting debt, a fundraiser has been put together for Coffee. It will take place at the Tejas Rodeo Arena in Bulverde June 15. There will be bull riding, mutton bustin’, live music and a live and silent auction.
If you would like to make monetary donations, go to www.tejasrodeo.com.