Partner Up Rodeo gives special needs children a chance to experience Western culture

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The 7th annual Partner Up Rodeo filled The Lincoln County Fairgrounds Wednesday. The event had 193 students with special needs register for a day full of events.

The 7th Annual Partner Up Rodeo gives children with special needs a chance to try different rodeo events at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. (Source: Holly Barraclough, KNOP TV)

The morning started out with a Grand Entry with performances from The North Platte Catholic Schools High School band and Community Band. The students were partnered up with buddies who volunteered their time to help out at the event.

They then rotated around four stations including: line dancing taught by the North Platte High School Pacers, story time, chores on the plains and songs around the campfire.

A hamburger and macaroni and cheese lunch was served by volunteers and First National Bank. Subway donated cookies for dessert.

After lunch, more activities took place including: horseback riding, goat roping, barrel racing and races out of the bucking chutes.

Brody Stroup was a participant in the rodeo and said he liked the bucking shoots.

"So I just kind of messed around and hanging out with my friends and this thingymabobberover here, the little gate thing, I was racing people, the first time I got bucked in the dirt, twice, I just got bucked in the dirt, and had fun," said Stroup.

Lou Cox-Fornander, who is a member of the Partner Up Rodeo Committee, and one of the organizers of the event, said "We keep doing it because it impacts so many people. I come at it from the school point of view and we love to see the community members and everybody come out, there are so many community members that are so generous with their time, with their resources."

Cox-Fornander said the day is important for the participants because they get partnered up with a buddy to spend all day with creating a bond. "we call it the partner up rodeo and one of the committees big dreams has been to partner kids with special needs with peers in other schools and the high school rodeo kids of been amazing turning out and share what they love with kids."

One such bonded pair is Aaron Johnson, senior at Kearney High School, and Gauge McBride, 2nd grade at Mullen. They have been partners at the rodeo for two years.

"I love hanging out with these kids they're a lot of fun especially Aaron," said McBride, "We have a lot of fun, we're both pretty wild so we get to run around and do whatever we want."

McBride has been volunteering for three years and said he continues to volunteer because of the way it makes him feel. "I feel good, I feel good about myself and what we did and helping these guys out, but I'm bummed I have to leave."

The Partner Up Rodeo Committee said Wednesday was another successful year of events and to they plan to host the rodeo again next year.