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It was April 2. Gianna Cianfichi was on the rodeo grounds preparing for the 77th Poly Royal Rodeo set for the upcoming weekend. She was supposed to perform. However, as the bioresource and agricultural engineering freshman tied up one of her horses, her thumb got caught in the lead rope. The horse pulled back with enough force that her thumb went with it.

From there, Cianfichi’s coach took her to the emergency room. Later, she was airlifted to the University of Southern California’s Keck Hospital in Los Angeles.

She was in surgery for about eight hours. Initially, the surgeon thought her surgery went well.

“He was really excited because it looked so good,” Cianfichi said.

However, her hand took a turn for the worse and the doctors decided to amputate her thumb in an additional three-hour surgery.

“I was definitely sad that my thumb was gone, but I was in good spirits,” Cianfichi said. “I cried throughout the day a few times, but [I’m] definitely a positive person.”

Cianfichi can’t lift more than 20 pounds for the next six to eight weeks, but she isn’t letting that hold her back.

“I want to be a role model for other girls [in the rodeo community] or people with disabilities,” Cianfichi said.

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