Children with special needs had their day in the spot light during the Rodeo Challenge held Saturday, June 27 at the Ponoka Stampede Infield.
The event started 16 years ago to bring modified rodeo rides for children with special needs and has received strong support from the Ponoka Stampede Association, the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) and many volunteers who come to help out.
This year for one mother it was a great day to see her son Jacob Reynolds checking out all the rides. Reynolds has cerebral palsy, said Heather Reynolds, and this was his first time at the challenge.
“What a great opportunity for him to learn about a new sport,” said Reynolds.
“It makes him feel like anybody else,” she added.
Reynolds said Jacob usually doesn’t stray far from her side, but during the Rodeo Challenge he was out and about and walked alongside one of the cowboy volunteers.
WPCA president Ed Witchen said the association is proud to be part of the experience. Drivers, outriders, officers and family came out to guide the kids through the rides.
“This is probably our most popular day of the year for our guys,” he said proudly.
He feels there are many people who are connected to children with special needs and added there are WPCA members who attended the day without prompting.
Diane Vold is one of the co-organizers of the event and seeing the joy on parents’ and children’s faces makes it worth the effort for her to host the occasion.
One parent spoke to organizers about the event and he praised them for giving his daughter her wish. “They (kids) get to be special for a day.”
“One of our volunteers said that if she won a million dollars that it wouldn’t be any better a day than this,” said Vold.
Volunteers have been with the event since its inception and she is grateful for their efforts.
“There are so many people with tears in their eyes because they see how much fun these kids are having,” explained Vold.