Rodeo challenge builds poise

Under a blue sky and bright sun, 24 children took part in the 13th annual Ponoka Stampede Rodeo Challenge.

Scarlet Jones sits on top of Wild West Willy at the rodeo challenge.

Under a blue sky and bright sun, 24 children took part in the 13th annual Ponoka Stampede Rodeo Challenge.

Two of those children were Scarlet Jones, 8, and five-year-old Isaiah Adamkewicz. It was Jones’ first time attending the Rodeo Challenge. Her parents had never heard of it before this year.

Jones was born with DiGeorge Syndrome — a small deletion of a chromosome — and has had two open-heart surgeries. But that didn’t stop her from getting on the teeter-totter bull numerous times — one hand in the air like a real cowgirl.

“Because you go up and down,” Jones said, referring to her love of the “bulls,” her eyes already drifting back for another ride.

Jones teamed up with Sinclair Racing barn crewman Keith Erlandson. “I enjoy being with the kids, giving them a chance to get out and raise their confidence,” Erlandson said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids. It’s a special day for them.”

It was also Adamkewicz’s first time at the Rodeo Challenge. It was recommended to his parents by the people of Aspire in Red Deer.

“I will have a good time,” Adamkewicz said. And he did.

“You could put him on a horse from the time he was a baby,” said his mother, Randi.

Adamkewicz rode the horses of the Rodeo Challenge twice and got on Wild West Willy. Willy is a steer standing over six feet tall and weighing 2,800 lbs.

Half an hour into the challenge, Randi Adamkewicz was already considering bringing her son again next year. “It’s just awesome.”

Adamkewicz worked with local rancher Rick Angeltvedt. “My hat’s off to the people who organized it.”

At the end of the event, each child was given a rodeo trophy and had their picture taken with their partner, Ponoka Stampede Association director Blair Vold and a Mountie.

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