Monument Health hosts a different kind of rodeo

Volunteers from all walks of life came together and left both inspired and encouraged

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A different kind of rodeo was held Saturday, one where everyone — even the volunteers — were winners.

“Stuff like this builds confidence in young kids,” said Dustin Luper, head rodeo coach at Chadron State College.

Excitement and infectious smiles filled the Kjerstad Event Center Saturday morning for Monument Health’s Special Rodeo. It’s the first year for the event, which aims to give those with different abilities the chance to experience the rodeo lifestyle.

“Jack is 22 years old and he has autism and he is nonverbal, so there’s not a lot of opportunities for young adults with disabilities,” said Michelle Kane, one of the parents in attendance. “So this is the first time we tried this, and so far he’s still here and he’s checking out a horse right now, so we’re going to say it’s a success so far!”

The event is also for the parents, helping to remind them they’re not alone, and connecting them to other families in similar situations.

Volunteers from all walks of life came together and left the event both inspired and encouraged.

Img 6780

Special Rodeo athletes take on the bull riding at the Monument Health Special Rodeo on August 27, 2022

“It’s probably more for me than it is for these kids. Honestly, just [to] see the smile and the joy that it brings them and it just fuels the fire within you,” Luper said.

From therapy horse rides to roping, bull riding and stick horse races, there was no shortage of opportunities to saddle up. Participants were paired with a buddy — forming friendships, some of which go on to last for years.

Madi Moody is on Black Hills State’s Rodeo Team and has volunteered her time at similar events in the past. Four years ago in Belle Fourche, she met Ruby, who was three at the time.

Ruby and her mom, Shannon, saw Madi from across the arena, and couldn’t believe who it was.

“Somebody asked me earlier, like what’s different about this. And I think that connection is just…getting to see them again. It’s just really cool,” Moody said.

Img 6810

Madi Moody met Ruby in 2018 at a Special Rodeo in Belle Fourche

Madi and Ruby spent lots of time talking, and it was all smiles for the pair.

Ruby’s favorite part? The horses, of course.

“We’re just grateful we get the opportunity to do these things,” Ruby’s mom, Shannon, said.

Everyone gets to go home a winner.

“It just builds something in them that nobody else can give them,” Luper said. “They just earn it.”

Categories: Central States Fair, ConnectCenter1-Family, Local News, South Dakota News