Dozens with disabilities ride horses at Rascal Rodeo
More than 60 people with mental and physical disabilities packed the rodeo arena at the Benton County Fairgrounds this morning for a unique chance to be cowboys and cowgirls for a day.
Participants rode real horses, roped calves and steers - which were actually large hay bales, milked fake cows and pretended to ride bulls using large barrels during the Rascal Rodeo event.
Parents say they are thankful for the opportunity to bring their kids to the rodeo.
Gilbert Castillo's seven year-old son Benjamyn has spina bifida, so he can't walk.
But today, he's a cowboy.
"He loves it. I mean every year, when is the rodeo, when is the rodeo, all year long, and I explain to him next month, next month, and it finally gets here. Last night, he didn't sleep, and today as you can see he just wants to do it all, it's just exciting for him and we're so happy for him" said Castillo.
"I started it for the participants, but I get just as much out of it as they do. It's hard to keep a dry eye, there's parents that say my child can't do that, my participant can't do that, they've never ridden a horse. Well, they come out here and they get on every single horse, and they don't want to get off the horses, so it's giving them the opportunity that they don't get anywhere else" said Ann-Erica Whitemarsh, Rascal Rodeo founder and president.
Participants ranged from 2 years old to 68 years old.
Organizers say this is the largest Rascal Rodeo event they've ever had.
About 130 volunteers were on hand today to help make it all happen.
The Rascal Rodeo will be in Ellensburg on September 29th, and in Pasco at the TRAC on November 23rd.