It began as an idea to provide children with challenges a chance to live out a dream.
Now 20 years later, Ponoka Stampede Rodeo Challenge organizers Ken and Margorie Krossa along with Diane and Lynden Vold, are wondering where the time went.
The event, which goes June 29, offers up various modified bull and bronc riding, chuckwagons and calf roping along with a petting zoo and rides in a horse-drawn wagon. The children with intellectual and physical challenges from five to 18 years old are then paired up with a volunteer that helps them through the events.
The long journey to this anniversary began after Krossa’s daughter got to attend a similar event at the Calgary Stampede.
“She was just crazy for anything cows and horses, but Calgary was always full,” said Marjorie. “When she finally got in, we thought Ponoka has its rodeo and wondered if we could do something here.”
Things really took off when Marjorie mentioned it to Diane and, once all the info was presented, the Stampede board approved the event.
“That first year was interesting, because we thought all it would take is gathering up some cowboys,” said Marjorie.
“But we couldn’t find anyone. Luckily, that’s when (chuckwagon driver) Rick Fraser and his wife Sue got on the phone. Since then, the World Professional Chuckwagon Association has always been our biggest partner.”
The best memory for Krossa, now that their daughter isn’t going, is seeing the progress made by many of the kids she has seen year after year.
“Seeing how some of the kids were their first time, and watching them now returning time after time, you can see the changes,” she said.
“So many of them now handle everything better and several are so excited.”
For more on the event, click on www.ponokastampederodeochallenge.ca.