Exceptional Rodeo Opens Contestants Eyes To Life
by Kevin DeBusk
PRCA cowboys and cowgirls took time out during the Wrangler National Finals to give back to those less fortunate, at the Exceptional Rodeo. Started in 1983 with special needs children in mind, the Exceptional Rodeo provides children with an opportunity to ride horses, steer rope a dummy, barrel race stickhorses, ride a hand-rock bull or bareback horse, and spend time with PRCA cowboys and cowgirls. Participants also receive a t-shirt, bandanna and cowboy hat.
"It's been said that rodeo has as much or more heart than any sport out there and you see that this morning," National Director Ruth Blakley said. "These cowboys and cowgirls have a lot at stake this week and yet here they are sharing their sport in a very profound and special way."
"If people would just stop and value life," West Point, Mississippi native Bob Lumas said. "These are some special kids and that's what I said about the word life. There's a lot more to life than this right here, win or loose, gold buckle or not."
"I've been a part of the Exceptional Rodeo since its inception," five-time PRCA Announcer of the Year Bob Tallman said. "People who have such a gifted life as we do get wrapped-up in the world of everything is perfect and when you check your blessings every morning you sometimes don't take the time to look around to find out that someone is less fortunate. When it comes to children they don't have a chance to prepare their future.
"Some of these children are Down's Syndrome children and some are mentally and physically handicapped. Others are just not given and gifted to every normal facet that you and I have.
"If we can give them something today to better it by raising their heartbeat or putting a smile on their face we become millionaires. Life's not based on physical attributes or money we have in our pocket. Life is based on the giving you have and time is the most valuable asset we have."
"It's a very humbling experience and makes it all worth while" nineteen-year-old barrel racer Janae Ward said. "This is just rodeo it's not our lives and this make you see that a little bit. It makes you see that we're very gift and very grateful to be here."
"I love being with children," bull rider Mike Moore stated. "My degree is in Elementary Education an when I get through rodeoing I plan to teach.
"I've always believed anything is possible as long as you believe and this goes to prove my theory. They are having a good time."
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