FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – Like any good rodeo, the 6th annual Exceptional Rodeo begins with the grand entry of athletes.
“It's like you're being famous,” said Dale Oberhoff.
Dale was among Friday’s competitors. He’s 12, the youngest of seven, and this is his first Exceptional Rodeo.
“It made me like that I'm having fun,” said Dale.
“We knew it was possible for him to be here, but the school didn't include him at first,” said Jacquelin Oberhoff, Dale’s mom.
So Jacquelin went around the school.
She feels it’s important for kids like Dale, who has autism, to stay as active as possible.
“Some of them don't really come alive until they come out here,” said Jacquelin.
“These kids don't have many opportunities to do field days or field trips, and we are providing both the love of rodeo and a field day experience,” said Exceptional Rodeo Committee chairperson Barbara Magana Robertson.
Among the activities available are horseback riding, barrel racing, a mechanical bull of sorts, pole racing and also Dale’s favorite: roping.
Every kid got to try every event.
Some were so excited they couldn’t quite put it into words, but that didn’t keep the joy from coming through.
“When you see that smile, you know you made their day,” Robertson said.
Of course, none of this could have happened if it weren’t for the volunteers, including KPRC’s own Phil Archer.
Although Jacquelin says they’re getting something out of this too.
“They make you smile. You could be having the worst day in the world and get around these kids and it's just beautiful. It's a beautiful thing,” Jacquelin said.
“It was like a blast,” Dale said.
You don't have to know a child with special needs to be a part of the Exceptional Rodeo. They're always looking for volunteers, and the event will be back next year.