Monday night's episode of Dancing With the Stars was this season's most emotional yet, with each contestant performing a dance inspired by the most memorable year of their life.
Professional bull rider Bonner Bolton and his partner Sharna Burgess gave the audience a routine inspired by the day he broke his neck in a near-fatal bull riding accident in January 2016 which left him temporarily paralyzed from the neck down.
As a video package detailing Bolton's injury aired on screen moments before the pair danced, the two shared a sweet moment that wasn't broadcast live. As Bolton became emotional as the clip played, Burgess held his head in her hands and wiped his tears away.
“I saw those tears streaming down his face. I let him know it was now about him and I,” Burgess told PEOPLE. “I told him ‘I’ve got you and we’re gonna get through this together.’ I let him know that I was his teammate and I was right there for him.”
Burgess shared that the rehearsals leading up to the dance were emotional for the pair.
“It’s so fresh. It’s only a year ago. He’s working so hard to move his life forward and I’m standing in front of him saying, ‘Let’s make a dance about it!'” she told reporters. “It’s not easy for him to go back there and talk about it, let alone trust me to tell it and know that I’m going to do a good job.”
Bolton added that while it was difficult to relive the traumatic moment, dealing with the emotions related to the injury has helped him to move past it.
“It was tough having to rehash everything from a year ago to now,” he told reporters. “I’ve worked really hard to put it all behind me and to watch my dad cry on video, which I had no idea was going down tonight, that was rough.”
“You can’t run from something like that or it will fester deep inside of you,” he continued. “You just have to face it. That’s the only way to heal. The scars that don’t ever heal are the ones you hide from.”
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