Livestock Show rodeo lets special-needs kids take part
MERCEDES — Amanda Villarreal cheered and yelled “yee-haw” as she threw one hand in the air while horseback riding Thursday afternoon at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.
After her ride, the Edinburg resident couldn’t contain her smile, and she patiently went to the end of the line for her next turn to ride again.
For six years, the Special Kids Rodeo has been held at the stock show to give children with special needs the opportunity to experience what rodeo life is all about.
Event organizer Courtney Reid said this is a low-key event, with scaled-down activities easily accessible to special-needs children.
Edward Gonzalez said the event was a blessing for his daughter and other children like her.
Gonzalez, from Pharr, was standing at a distance as his daughter, Samantha, 8, practiced roping a metal steer.
Samantha was in full cowgirl gear, sporting a cowboy hat, a red shirt and boots.
Mikey de los Santos was by Samantha’s side as he taught her the ropes.
De los Santos, an Edinburg North High School senior, was one of many Hidalgo County 4-H Ambassadors who volunteered to help with the event.
Reid said that animal petting, steer roping and horseback rides were among the most popular events for the children.