Exceptional Rodeo is heartfelt event
LAS VEGAS – The hectic schedule of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo takes a toll on participants.
Yet, on Monday morning, numerous Wrangler NFR cowboys, cowgirls and bullfighters made time to brighten the day for the boys and girls who took part in the Exceptional Rodeo at the Wrangler Arena inside the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Halls.
Adam Daurio, principal of the Exceptional Rodeo, oversaw running the event for the second year in a row.
“We do about six or seven of these a year, but the one here at the National Finals is by far the best,” Daurio said. “The attention we are able to give these kids and the experience that the athletes can provide for them is just second to none. This is where the heroes in the rodeo arena find heroes in the youth. It’s overwhelmingly amazing the turnout of volunteers we get. It’s amazing.”
Daurio said there were 43 youths primarily from Clark County School District participating in the Exceptional Rodeo, which was held for the 35th time in Las Vegas during the Wrangler NFR.
The children took part in six adaptive rodeo events, and after the rodeo experience the participants were awarded trophies, cowboy hats, T-shirts, contestant numbers, autographs and photos.
Adam Pipkin, 8, was one the children who left the event smiling.
“This is really, really cool we were able to do something like this,” said Colten Pipkin, Adam’s father. “He loved every minute of it. This (the Exceptional Rodeo) is so much bigger and better than what I thought it would be. For us to be able to come into the arena and do all these activities, his face was lighting up the whole time.”
Candy Pipkin concurred with her husband.
‘It makes me happy to see people take the time to do something like this because not everybody knows how hard it is to have a son with special needs,” Candy said. “To see (Adam) smiling, now he’s going to have a great day.”
Steer wrestler Kyle Irwin, who is making his fifth appearance at the Wrangler NFR, was guiding Adam around at the Exceptional Rodeo and was thrilled to do so.
“It was so humbling and such a blessing,” Irwin said. “I wish I could have done it for 45 days, not 45 minutes. To be able to see the smile on his face and the joy in his parents’ faces to see their little boy have some fun, this is just an awesome event.”
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