By JimiBeth Myers
Behind the Scenes
Barrel Racers Have an Exceptional Time
Giving Special Needs Kids a Taste of Rodeo
A combination of NFR contestants, rodeo queens, NFR bullfighters, and rodeo clowns come together to help roughly 30 Las Vegas area special needs kids at the “Exceptional Rodeo” held at Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Each kid is partnered with a cowgirl or cowboy who takes them through a variety of rodeo events from roping to riding.
The Exceptional Rodeo is held in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It is an event that has brought rodeo contestants and special needs children together for over 35 years. Even with contestants’ extremely hectic schedules in Las Vegas, they feel they get as much out of it as the kids do.
“I have been to the Exceptional Rodeo for the past three years and the joy that it brought to my heart to see these kids smile, and this is actually making their dreams come true if we think about it, so that just touches my heart, and I wouldn’t miss this for nothing. My schedule is crazy, but I will make this.” says 3-time NFR Qualifier Stevie Hillman.
7-time NFR Qualifier Tammy Fischer brought her 11-year old daughter Sydney to the Exceptional Rodeo to help the special needs kids learn about rodeo. Sydney is competing in the barrel racing in Junior NFR in the very same arena where the Exceptional Rodeo is hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “I feel really blessed that we have healthy kids so it’s really important to help the kids that have challenges in a way that shows our own kids a good example.”, said Tammy Fischer.
First-time NFR Qualifier Kelly Bruner is a veterinarian when she isn’t in the rodeo arena, so she is a natural caregiver. Bruner said, “I wanted to do this today because the kids are so special and it is so fun to see the joy on their faces.”
Amber Moore is back for her third time at the Exceptional Rodeo and says that she is happy to be here because “its a way to give back to the community and get out here for these kids.”