Children with disabilities get to rope, ride at sheriff’s rodeo in Devore
DEVORE – Rodeo contestants come in all shapes and sizes, and some even have disabilities.
The 13th annual San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Rodeo welcomed about 20 new cowboys and cowgirls to the circuit Saturday accompanied by a three-legged dog.
“Every year we have a Challenged Children’s Rodeo where children with disabilities take part in rodeo events with uniformed deputies at their side,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller. “It’s our way of showing that everyone can be in a rodeo – disabilities won’t limit what these children can accomplish through life.”
The special rodeo has a calm horse the kids ride around the arena, and the bull is replaced by a mock bull sitting on springs that rocks back and forth.
Stick-horse barrel racing, large rocking horses and mock bull roping are also in the lineup of activities.
One of the first horseback riders was 10-year-old Hallee Fernley of Long Beach. Halley has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
“Usually it’s her father and I that take her on special activities,” said Halley’s mother, Dara Fernley. “Here the deputies take her and she loves it and we get to watch, smile and cry.”
Deputies weren’t the only ones helping the young cowboys and cowgirls at the special event. Twenty sheriff’s academy trainees volunteered to assist at the rodeo.
“It’s not only the kids that get enjoyment at this event,” Miller said. “One trainee even got into a stick-horse race with one of the contestants.”
San Bernardino County’s top cop has a special place in his heart for this event, too.
“When you see the ear-to-ear smiles on the faces of these kids and the smiles on the deputies faces too, you know it’s the best event of the rodeo,” said Sheriff Rod Hoops.
“When this event ends these children get to keep their unique rope they used to snag a calf with, the hat and bandana used to protect them from the sun, receive a plaque from their deputy and leave the arena with smiles larger than the moon.”