Panola College hosts Rodeo Olympics

From left, a little cowboy has a great ride with Panola College Rodeo Team members Garrett Golliher, Rowdy Murray and Michael Deshotels.

Special Education Students from Carthage and Beckville spent the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 23 roping, riding, racing and rolling in the dirt at the Panola College Rodeo Olympics.

“This is a great community project for our rodeo team to be involved with,” said Don Clinton, Panola College Vice President of Student Success and Athletic Director. “We had 66 school kids participate today. It means a lot to our team to get to work with these kids and see the smiles on their faces.”

The College has sponsored the Rodeo Olympics for eight years, and Brandi Holloway is the volunteer coordinator. She said the rodeo team was inspired to work with the kids who might not have ever had a chance to “go in the dirt.”

“At the Rodeo Olympics, they get to know a horse, pet a horse, ride on a real horse. They get to barrel race and throw a rope. They love it, and the rodeo team members love it, too. The rodeo kids didn’t realize how those children would pull on their heart strings like they do. They introduce them to the horse, help them into the saddle and walk them around the arena. They give them stick horses and show them how to ride around the barrels like they’re barrel racing,” she said.

Still Waters Cowboy Church hosted the event at the church arena on Highway 315. This year, University Health contacted Holloway and volunteered to set up a tent to provide Gatorade, water and a first aid station. Volunteers from University Health included Shelbea Comer, Emergency Room director; Kevin Jones, ER charge nurse; Daphne Philo, pharmacy supervisor; Sherry Wilson, admitting supervisor, and Sherrie Mims, lab.

Comer and Holloway are former Panola College employees who have a heart for children and the Panola College Rodeo Team.

“We plan for this all year,” Holloway said. “Seeing the college rodeo team members work with these kids warms my heart. It’s a lot of work to put it together, but all those smiling faces makes it all worthwhile.”