Special Needs Children Become Cowboys and Cowgirls For A Day

A small town rodeo has become a big hit with physically and mentally challenged kids.  The Franklin County Sheriff's Posse Handicapped Rodeo began 4 years ago with just a handful  volunteers and 7 children. Now, it brings in special needs kids and their families from across the state.

250 kids and adults turned out for the rodeo.

"It's a real rewarding thing it really is, it fills your heart, they get to come out here have a great time, put smiles on their faces" says Captain Mike Betts of the Franklin County Sheriffs Posse.

Organized by the sheriffs posse, participants showed their skills in everything from calf roping, to barrel racing.

"I did real good today, I want to come out here again next year , and ride some more horses again" said  cowboy Bobby Butler of Mount Pleasant.

For some it was their first opportunity to be around horses, for still others it was their first opportunity to get into the saddle. There was music, and hay rides,  and lots of smiles. For all involved, the event had rewards that go beyond winning and losing.

"To me to see a child get out here and get on a horse for the first time thrills my heart" said event volunteer Barbara Crowston.

When it was all over, the payoff for organizers was exactly what they wanted.

"Thank you for the great time I had here, thank you" said one of the little riders.

Livestock and trophies for the rodeo came from business and private donations. The cowboys and cowgirls came from as far away as Dallas and Frisco to compete.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting bhallmark@kltv.com .