BRAWLEY — Families with special needs gathered in the stands to watch the Cattle Call Mini Rodeo Wednesday, November 6, at the Cattle Call Arena in Brawley. The stands were full of children laughing, playing, clapping, and watching with wide eyes as rodeo riders bucked and barrel raced.
Each year, the Cattle Call Rodeo swoops into the small town of Brawley, bringing hundreds, if not thousands, of Imperial County residents. Guests ride in to watch as the Cattle Call Court is introduced, cowboys ride and rope, and several others perform.
A special annual event is hosted during Cattle Call week to give local children with special needs a special day. The Mini Rodeo is open only to families and children with special needs. This allows the children to observe and enjoy the rodeo without having to fight for seats, struggle to bring wheelchairs into the stands, or worry about missing the chance to see the sights of the rodeo.
Chairman Julie Reeves expressed her sincerest gratitude to volunteers that help make the day of fun possible for local special needs children.
“This event is done with an all volunteer group of people from around the Imperial Valley," she explained. "Most of the volunteers are students who are the contestants and clowns, including the Brawley Union High School Rodeo Club that is part of the arena crew. We also have volunteers from the local Naval Air Facility that help with the parking and assisting with getting the guests into the grandstands, especially those in wheelchairs.”
According to Reeves, having a separate day allows the children to enjoy the rodeo without the hustle and bustle of larger event over the weekend. The Mini Rodeo includes the same performances as the regular rodeo events, but on a smaller scale and in a shorter time frame.
“It was founded by former Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo Committee member Joanie Moore who wanted to provide a rodeo experience for the children whose physical abilities made it difficult for them to attend the large and crowded professional rodeo,” said Reeves.
Reeves said the event is for invited guests only, and with the help of Brawley Union High School board member Patti Wilson, more classes were reached this year. She estimates approximately 1,000 children were in attendance at this year’s Mini Rodeo.
“The Mini Rodeo is an important part of the Cattle Call festivities because it focuses on others rather than ourselves,” Reeves said. “This is a beautiful opportunity for those of us who love horses and rodeo and who have the physical and mental abilities to partake in these activities to share it with those who are unable to do this. It is a reminder to not take what we have for granted and to always remember those who are less fortunate and to share with them what we have when we can. It is the favorite part of Cattle Call for the Mini Rodeo Committee.”