JUNCTION CITY – “Giddyup!”
The horse command could be
heard in abundance during the Exceptional Family Member Program’s Special Needs
Rodeo July 16 at the Geary County 4-H fairgrounds.
The 17th annual event – in
partnership with the Junction City Rodeo Association – provided a hands-on private
rodeo experience for EFMP children, ages 4 and older, and their families.
Horseback riding, horse and
carriage rides, and roping were among some of the activities offered.
The children were given
hats, sheriffs’ badges, handkerchiefs and free tickets to see the real rodeo later
Rodeo queen candidates
instructed children to give the “giddyup” command to horses, while being
carried on horseback around the arena.
After horseback riding, one
boy said he was hooked and wanted to continue to ride horses into adulthood.
“I want to ride horses or
have a horse when I’m older,” said Nathan Caiafa, 9.
But horses weren’t the only
rodeo animal that caught the young boy’s eye.
Nathan also spent a lot of
time concentrating on learning how to rope a bull.
“I want to ride a bull,” he
New to Kansas, the Caiafa
family had never visited a rodeo before, but said they found the experience worthwhile.
“This has been so good for my
boys. They love the horses and the roping,” said Sarah Caiafa, military spouse
and Nathan’s mother. “I think we have created a rodeo monster.”
The children also learned the
basics of how to ride a bull on a small mechanical bull.
“We do this because we want
to offer families an opportunity to enjoy a different type of experience and
culture that they may not have ever had before,” said Laurie McCauley, manager,
EFMP, Army Community Service.
The event concluded with a hamburger
and hot dog cookout.
“The highly attended event and
the partnership with the Junction City Rodeo Association provided hours of
thrills, entertainment and excitement for about 80 members of EFMP,” said
Garrison Commander Col. Andrew Cole. “The rodeo queen candidates were a fine
touch to a successful gathering for 2014. I’d like to thank all of the local
volunteers who came in early and stayed throughout to make the event a