Brazilian-born cowboy Filipe Masetti Leite has successfully achieved his dream of becoming the third person in the world to cross the Americas on horseback.
The 33-year-old completed his eight-year journey on Friday, riding into Calgary the same day the Stampede was supposed to begin.
After the event was cancelled, Masetti Leite was named the honourary Stampede Parade marshal.
As he rode into Calgary on Friday along 12 Mile Coulee Road, the cowboy was met by Stampede officials including President Dana Peers, before travelling through the city with an escort of police mounted units.
Masetti Leite, who moved to Canada from Brazil when he was a kid, began his original journey in July 2012 when he saddled up and set off from the Calgary Stampede’s centennial celebration.
Since then, he has been crossing the Americas on horseback in sections at a time.
Last year, Masetti Leite rode 2,600 kilometres from Fairbanks, Ala. to Grande Prairie, Alta. He then paused for the winter, before beginning the final leg of his journey from Grande Prairie to Calgary — which he started on May 20.
On Friday, he finally completed his awe-inspiring journey, marking over 26,000 kilometres travelled in total.
“Eight years ago, I left the Calgary Stampede an unknown cowboy, a kid with a dream that seemed bigger than life. Many people called me crazy, several said I would die doing it — and almost all said it was impossible,” Masetti Leite said. “But here I am, eight years later, finishing where it all started.
“I hope my journey serves as motivation to people. If you put your mind, heart and soul into it, nothing is impossible.”
Masetti Leite said his dream to ride the Americas was passed down from his father and inspired by the legendary long-riders of the past. In total, his journey took him through 12 countries.
“I am one of the richest people in the world today in terms of the things I’ve seen, the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met,” Masetti Leite said. “It’s hard to put into words what I am feeling right now. I am concluding a dream and it feels amazing.”