“I spend a lot of time at the ranch with him, especially on weekends,” Scott said. “We spent our time snowmobiling, skiing, shooting something with guns. It was really activity-based. Bobby wasn't someone who would sit around …
A friend's motivation(Editor's note: This is the final installment of a three-part story on world-renowned adventure photographer and Cody native, Bobby Model, and his recovery from a massive brain injury he sustained in 2007.)Scott Bragonier and Bobby Model met as kindergartners at Eastside School in Cody. Over the years, the two forged a friendship that would endure throughout the years, and despite great distances.
“I spend a lot of time at the ranch with him, especially on weekends,” Scott said. “We spent our time snowmobiling, skiing, shooting something with guns. It was really activity-based. Bobby wasn't someone who would sit around — he wasn't much of a TV-watcher.”
Summing up their childhood friendship: “It was non-stop with Bobby. It rarely slowed down.”
As young adults, their paths diverged.
“Bobby became very good at rock climbing. I tried to keep up with him, but I quickly found that I couldn't. We left for college (Scott went to Montana State University in Bozeman, while Bobby attended the University of Wyoming), and we would see each other rarely. We each had our own interests,” he added.
Scott eventually started his own family, and he and Bobby began, once again, to maintain better contact. Bobby was traveling the world, documenting people and places for magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, and Scott had a career that got him out of the office and into the great outdoors.
“When we'd come back (to Cody) during the year, we'd communicate and try to meet up. He was a very busy man,” Scott said, adding, “Through email we were able to keep in contact and keep a rough grasp on what each other was doing.”
When Scott heard about Bobby's injury, he had what he called a “knee-jerk reaction. Like a lot of people, I'm sure, I wanted to be there.”
He first saw him when he got to Craig Hospital in Denver.
“He was unresponsive the first time I saw him. I'm not sure he knew I was there. I was shocked to see Bobby in that condition — someone so active, so fit. It took a lot of time. I knew what I should expect, but until I saw him, it didn't really sink in.
“It was night and day (by the time) he got to Cody. I was so excited. When I first saw him ... I was ecstatic. Since he arrived in December, every time I go see him, I see a tremendous amount of improvement ... He has his wit, he's talking ... It's like going to see Bobby now. You can joke with him, he flips you off. He's got that smirk.”
Scott and his family now live in Cody, and he works for the U.S. Forest Service. He tries to visit his old friend at least a few times a week.
“I play guitar. We sing some songs. I know he wishes he could be more active,” Scott said. “Sometimes I rub his feet or his shoulders, since he can't get up and stretch the way we can. It's pretty low-key. We play thumb war. His right hand is really strong.”
“Looking back, it's amazing — in such a short amount of time, he did what most of us will never do,” Scott added.
“It really reminds you to take advantage of every opportunity. Do something with your family, do something for yourself.
“Shame on some of us for not being out and doing things when there are people who can't get out — not for lack of want.”
Scott said he doesn't know what the future will bring for Bobby, but he's optimistic.