GLADEWATER, TX (KLTV) - The excitement and tradition of an East Texas rodeo goes on tonight wrapping up the 82nd edition of the Gladewater Round-up rodeo.
But the morning of the final Saturday is reserved for physically challenged children to experience their own version of the event. the Gladewater ‘Handi-capable rodeo.’
They suffer various physical and mental disabilities, but for numerous children today at the Gladewater rodeo area was about their chance to be rodeo champions.
"This is our chance to give an opportunity to the kids that are special needs and handicapped that don't get to experience these kinds of things," says event organizer Lindsey Hitt.
The simple act of being on horseback gives them the feeling of being just like any other rodeo competitor.
"Their world is completely different from ours so we just like to give them a chance to experience this and to be able to ride a horse," Hitt says.
“I love this. I watch kiddos that don’t like to go anywhere, that don’t like to talk to people, and they get on the back of a horse and actually grin and smile and giggle,” says Jonnette Poole of the non-profit organization ‘Hooves and Halo’s’.
From kids going on hay rides, to face-painting, to horseback, the payoff was obvious.
"Awesome to see them do those things that they don't get to do on a daily basis," says Hitt.
"Anytime you can reach out of somebody that's having a hard time, having difficulty in life or just challenges, and make them smile? That's a good day," Poole says.
The event was sponsored by ‘Quickfish’, and featured horses from several equine rehab facilities.