HOUSTON – Former Houston Dash soccer star Kealia Ohai is out as grand marshal of the Downtown Rodeo Parade, but it appears it’s due to her trade to Chicago and not any issue with the Rodeo organization.
“We were excited to have Kealia lead our 2020 Downtown Rodeo Parade and appreciated her willingness to be a part of our annual tradition,” Joel Cowley, Rodeo president and chief executive officer, is quoted saying in the news release. “Kealia has made a tremendous contribution to the Houston community, and we hope she can be involved in the Rodeo in the future. We wish her all the best in Chicago with her new team — she will certainly be missed in Houston.”
The Rodeo announced the change to the Feb. 29, 2020 event in a news release Wednesday with a listing of the new grand marshals.
Meet the new grand marshals:
Ben Dickerson, 1957 scholar, FFA Scholarship Dickerson was the first Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship recipient in 1957. He received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and his doctorate from Louisiana State University. He is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and currently serves as director of Clinical Operations for Ranch Hand Rescue Human and Animal Sanctuary. Dickerson also serves as a member of the Texas Joint Legislative Committee on Aging.
Bill Sarpalius, 1969 scholar, FFA Scholarship Sarpalius attended Texas Tech University where he received his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and was later named a distinguished alumnus. He was elected to the Texas Senate in 1980 and served for eight years. In 1989, Sarpalius was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he served as a member of the Agricultural Committee. Currently, he’s a motivational speaker and CEO of Advantage Associates International and also serves as chair of the Rodeo’s Alumni Association.
Dr. Gregg Knape, 1972, FFA Scholarship Dr. Knape’s love for animals led him to Texas A&M University where he graduated in 1976 with a degree in veterinary medicine specializing in farm animals. He opened his own practice in 1983, serving as veterinarian at Gulf Coast Large Animal Clinic. Dr. Knape also serves as the official RODEOHOUSTON® veterinarian, ensuring that all of the livestock athletes receive the best care.
Misty Skaggs, 1989, 4-H Scholarship Skaggs received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism from Texas A&M University in 1993, and currently serves as Chief of Staff, Office of the Dean at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Services.
Ryan Levy, 1993, Metropolitan Scholarship Levy is a winemaker, chef, and certified sommelier who trained in France at Le Cordon Bleu, in California with master sommeliers and star winemakers in Napa, and began creating his first wines in 2007 under his label, Nice. In 2017, his wine was awarded Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show in the Rodeo’s International Wine Competition and was sold at auction for $140,000. He received his bachelor’s degree from Rice University and his doctorate degree from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law.
Sarah Brubaker, 2006, Opportunity Scholarship Brubaker studied aerospace engineering at The University of Texas and now works at NASA, a lifelong dream. At NASA, she serves as ISS Commercial Crew Integration Engineer, working on the team that manages transportation to and from the International Space Station. She received her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.
Yuselmy Garza, 2010, Metropolitan Scholarship & 2013 Achievement Scholarship Garza currently serves as a project manager at Memorial Hermann Hospital. She is also actively involved as a Rodeo volunteer, serving as assistant captain of the Gatekeepers Committee and the Rodeo’s Scholarship Alumni Task Force. Garza received her bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from the University of Houston and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston-Downtown Marilyn Davies College of Business.
Jordan Pemberton, 2019, Houston Area Scholarship Pemberton attended Houston’s Yates High School and is a health major at the University of Houston. He is involved in the Honors Scholar Program and the Black Student Health Association.
The 2020 Downtown Rodeo Parade will be held at 10 a.m. The parade route begins at Bagby and Walker streets, travels from Travis to Bell, and from Bell to Louisiana, before turning on Lamar and ending at Lamar and Bagby streets.