Rascal Rodeo on the road towards Las Vegas this week

PASCO, Wash. — Rascal Rodeo is on the road, headed towards Las Vegas this week.

The non-profit started in the Tri-Cities around 2010. According to founder Ann-Erica Whitemarsh, their mission is to help those with special needs become cowboys and cowgirls.

In the last decade, Rascal Rodeo has expanded to Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. They host over 25 rodeos a year, averaging 75 participants at each event.

The goal for the next two weeks is to reach people on a global scale.

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“In 2019, we had them from all over the world,” said Whitemarsh. “I think we had three different countries represented. So it was really cool to see so many people from all over.”

The Las Vegas events are in coordination with the National Finals Rodeo at Cowboy Marketplace inside Mandalay Bay.

“When they hear that Rascal Rodeo is in town and it’s an opportunity for people with special needs, then they say ‘We want to take part,’ whether it’s participating or volunteering,” said Whitemarsh.

Participants get to ride a horse, many for the very first time, during Rascal Rodeo. The event oftentimes surprises parents and caretakers of what their children can do.

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“Those parents are usually in tears because they can’t believe what their child accomplished that day,” Whitemarsh said. “Being able to really help the participants discover abilities that they didn’t know they had, that’s probably the best part of it.

“We’ve had three participants say their first words ever after coming to participate with us. One gentleman, 30-years old, said ‘horse’ after coming and riding a horse with us, and he’s confined to a wheelchair, had never spoken a word before. It’s a miraculous event, and that’s the only way you can explain it,” Whitemarsh said.

Rascal Rodeo does not charge anyone to participate in their events and relies on donations and volunteers to operate. If you would like to donate or volunteer, click here for more information.

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