BELTON, Texas — Not everyone can say living their ultimate ambitions includes clown makeup, oversize jeans and a foam cowboy hat, but that's exactly the dream Backflip the Clown is living out.
Backflip, also known as John Dudley, is a Marine veteran and professional rodeo clown. Dudley was featured in the 32nd annual Bell County Rodeo during Military Appreciation Night Friday.
It all began in the late 90s in Beaufort, South Carolina when Dudley went to his first professional rodeo shortly after enlisting in the Marine Corp.
"The short, dumpy little rodeo clown was having fun in the arena," Dudley said. "All of a sudden he jumps the fence and he runs up into the crowd and there's this pretty good looking blonde haired lady sitting there next to this big, muscle-bound Marine and jumps in her lap. That muscle-bound Marine jumps up and starts taking pictures and laughing."
Dudley said he thought the rodeo clown had a pretty good gig just putting smiles on faces.
Lynda Kemper brought her second grade class from Thornton Elementary for the mini rodeo Friday, and she said the clown brought more than just smiles.
"It takes courage to stand alone." Kemper said. "It takes courage to stand in a group and some of my children said, 'Look at that. That is great teamwork, Ms. Kemper.'"
To those kids, Dudley had a simple message: Whatever you want to do, commit to it.
"It doesn't matter what you want to be when you grow up," Dudley said. "Set your mind to it, you can do it. Whether it's going into the military or being the President of the United States of America. It doesn't matter what it is, you set your mind to it you can make it happen."