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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – In the heart of Texas- right here – lives a cowgirl with an inspiring story.

Her name – Mary Walker.

She’s a star! A world champion barrel racer with a will of an iron.

You wouldn’t know it if you saw her. But watching her lead her horse around the barrels, you see the cowgirl with strength, resilience and determination.

Walker, 57, is at the top of her game in a sports crowded with women – younger than her by decades.

She’s a 2012 world champion barrel racer and just last week, she won a big prize at the Fort Worth Rodeo.

She started riding when she was, “itty bitty,” she said. Rodeo-ing in her teens. She even met her husband at a rodeo. Byron Walker is a famous name in cowboy circles. He’s inducted to the Cowboy Hall Of Fame and a world champion steer wrestler.

Their only child Reagon Walker was on his way to becoming a star when tragedy struck

Strength

The Walkers faith was tested.

It was April 2011, their 21-year old son died in a car crash suddenly. “When Reagon passed away, I thought it was the end of our lives,” recalls Walker. “We didn’t know what to do. We fumbled around for weeks.”

Walker knew she had to get on with her life. She got back on the horse and started competing. After a trip to Hawaii, which the couple were to take with Reagon, she went to compete. “We got home from Hawaii, on June 9th at 6:00am and June 9th at 9:40pm at night, I was in the hospital,” she recalls.

Resilience

Her dear horse Latte fell on her, almost killing her. Her body was broken but her spirit remained strong. “When they put me in the ambulance I thought what did I do to make God mad at me,” she said. “He took my only child and I don’t know what’s wrong with me and I said what have I done to make you mad.” Questions she had no answers to… but the Walkers persevered.

Mary wasn’t done yet. She picked herself up – and in 2012, a year after the accident – she won the world champion. She believes her son is her angel. ” I knew he would take care of me, you know you feel, that presence. And I know he’s with us all the time and helping me,” she said. “He’s going “Mom, you have to do it!”

Determined

If you spend any time with Walker- you understand why her fans love her so much. She’s mild- mannered, polite and fiercely competitive. In 2013 she was inducted to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. Age for her is a state of mind. She says she’s not done yet. “I’d like to win one more world championship before Latte is too old.” she told CBS 11 News.

Mary Walker is CBS11’s Texans With Character.

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