Dave Rogers

For The Record

 

The fifth annual Special Angels Rodeo at T2 Arena will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

That doesn’t mean a break for the founders of the western-flavored special needs event, Lue Harris and her daughter, Jo Harris.

“We’re already doing things for next year’s rodeo,” Jo said.

But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

From about 100 participants in 2014, the first year, the Special Angels Rodeo has grown to serve more than 300 the past two years.

“What do we get out of it,” Lue Harris repeated the question. “Satisfaction.”

“It’s just pure joy for us to see the joy on the kids’ faces,” Jo Harris said from her stool behind the counter at her family’s Farmers Mercantile store downtown.

“The happiness we see in one day makes up for the whole year of work we’ve put in.”

It’s not just kids but adults too with special needs who come each year from as far away as west Texas to Lake Charles.

A petting zoo, wagon rides, two bouncy houses, a photo booth and carnival games and vendors are fun, but it’s the western touch that sets this event apart.

A mechanical bull, a bucking horse, bucking bulls and Oscar, the Bucking Alligator – all made out of oil drums – are big attractions, as are roping and barrel racing.

Live horses will appear from stables in Rose City and Lake Charles.

“They are therapy horses, so kids can ride a live horse if they want,” Jo Harris said.

Along with hundreds of participants will be hundreds of volunteers. Harris said helpers come from all the Lamar campuses, area high schools and middle schools, and relatives.

“We’re always accepting new members in our group,” she said. Info is at www.specialangelsrodeo.org.

Saturday’s opening ceremonies will honor David Cagle and Bailee Ackerman, two former volunteers who have died recently.

“It’s just a fun-filled day,” Jo Harris said. “Anybody’s welcome to come out and enjoy.”