Carman Williams

Two very special causes highlighted the Sheriff’s Posse rodeo Thursday night.

The second annual Extreme Rodeo gave children with special needs a chance to cowboy up and get into the rodeo action.

Greenwood Baptist Church sponsored the event and worked with local elementary special education programs to preregister the kids.

Volunteers from the church worked with rodeo officials to create kid-friendly versions of traditional rodeo events, such as pole bending with stick horses, tie-down roping with a calf-shaped carpet and even a saddle bronc set up with hay bales.

Volunteers also brought horses and ponies to give the kids a chance to ride.

Every child received a hat and bandanna, as well as a western-style picture of themselves. They were also led in their own grand entry parade.

The kids received a teary-eyed standing ovation from the crowds as they waved and yee-hawed like weathered cowboys.

“My face feels like it’s about to crack,” one volunteer said. “This has been a night of smiles.”

Oksana Nelson with Greenwood Baptist Church coordinated the event, and credited the Sheriff’s Posse for their graciousness and help.

The Sheriff’s Posse also worked with the American Cancer Society Thursday night to raise awareness and support for breast cancer research. Posse members and cowboys proved they were tough enough to wear pink for the cause, and many fans also got into the act. Shades of pink, from cotton candy to fuchsia, covered the arena.

Pink volunteers worked to promote the Pink Luncheon this October, which will provide free mammograms for high-risk women.

Volunteering for these special causes seemed to inspire the pros to do their best at the rodeo.

All three bareback riders qualified in their event, and the saddle bronc riders were ready to perform as well.

Isaac Diaz took the top score of the night with an 87-point ride on Fire Fly.

In the bull riding, Donald Francis earned the winning 84 points on Free Ride.

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