Valdosta Daily Times

March 22, 2013

Berrien County celebrates 20th Annual Exceptional Kids Rodeo

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

BERRIEN COUNTY — Before the public gets to see Nashville's professional rodeo tonight and tomorrow, 110 children with special needs were treated to rodeo games and a rodeo show during the 20th Annual Exceptional Kids Rodeo in Nashville at the Berrien County Saddle Club Thursday.

Students, paired with FFA (Future Farmers of America) students or teachers, engaged in events like bell racing, bull riding, team roping and steer roping, according to event coordinator Prissy Massingill who, with her family, has headed up the event since its inception.

“We've seen it over the years we've been putting this on,” said Massingill.  “When these kids get out here, they sometimes overcome their daily difficulties and they have fun doing it. This rodeo gives them the opportunity to make new friends and have a good time. Their teachers aren't required to do anything other than relax and watch the kids have a good time.”

Participants also got a chance to ride ponies around a small arena and cruise a cart-train around the grounds, according to Kim McGhee of KB Horse Camp.

“We like to come out here every year to be a blessing to the kids. We bring out the train, buggy ride and ponies,” said McGhee. “I was blessed with a healthy child and I'd like to be a blessing to others. We were able to bring a lot of smiles to these kids faces today. But without people donating time and resources to help Mrs. Prissy, we couldn't do it.”

Teresa Fender said she enjoyed spending the day with her FFA partner and new friend, but the highlight of her day was riding the tallest horse at the event.

After lunch, organizers unveiled a surprise performance by a rodeo professional to the attendees, according to Massingill, who said she called in her professional cowboy and cowgirl friends to help commemorate the event's 20th anniversary.

“I'd like to recognize the professional cowboys and cowgirls for making an extra trip, because we all know how expensive fuel can be,” said Massingill. “They've taken time out of their busy schedules to make an extra trip today, because most of them will be performing in the rodeo tomorrow or Saturday night. They’re doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, and I thank them for that.”

Tonight and tomorrow night, those cowboys and cowgirls will join their peers for the Cotton Blossom Roundup Professional Rodeo. The shows kick off at 7:30 p.m. both nights at the Berrien County Saddle Club.

“Don't let the rain scare you, because we have a covered bleacher section,” said Massingill. “Come on in and have a good time.”

To learn how you can support the Exceptional Kids Rodeo or to find out more about the events, contact the Berrien County Chamber of Commerce at BerrienChamber@windstream.net