Lincoln’s PRCA Rodeo was full of special events |

Lincoln’s PRCA Rodeo was full of special events

The last weekend of January brought cowboys and cowgirls from 19 different states and even a few from Canada to the Lincoln, Neb., PRCA rodeo at the downtown Pershing arena. Among the contestants were a few home-state Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers including Garrett Nokes, June Holeman, and Steven Dent. Friday and Saturday night’s performances each held in store several special events that made rodeo contestants and spectators alike, proud to be associated with the sport.

Friday night was “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night, where contestants wore pink to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. The rodeo proceeds of Friday night went to the LifeSpring Program by BryanLGH in Lincoln, which is a recovery program for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. The “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” campaign has been implemented since 2004 and has raised over $5 million dollars to help find a cure.

Saturday night a special mutton buster got a chance to support the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. Local radio station 96 Kicks sponsored the mutton bustin’ rough riders by wrangling up youngsters to ride the sheep during each performance. The last mutton bustin’ spot was auctioned off and received a final bid of $500 with proceeds going to benefit the hospital. 96 Kicks’ radio personality, Kelly Garrett, says the radio station is proud to support the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center because they never turn a child away, no matter how serious their illness or injury, or due to the family’s inability to pay. The money the mutton bustin’ event raised during the rodeo stays in Nebraska, helping area children and their families. Evan and Karen Peters of Gretna, Neb., purchased the spot for their 7-year-old son Zach, knowing the importance of their contribution as Zach has been in and out of Children’s for care and treatment.

With animal welfare issues a boiling hot topic in Nebraska due to recent pressure from the Humane Society of the United States, a shining example of the care taken to keep rodeo livestock safe was witnessed Saturday night. During the saddle bronc riding a cowboy made his ride and dismounted safely while his bronc continued bucking around the arena as the pickup men worked to dismantle the flank strap. The bronc bucked hard enough that he knocked himself down and kept kicking while he was on the ground, essentially not letting himself back up. The pickup men, Brian Latterner and Jeff Rector both of Minnesota, realized the horse may potentially injure himself and quickly dismounted their horses to hold the bronc’s head down as rodeo crew members ran to their aid. Once the horse was calmed by the crew it jumped back up and pranced toward the exit gate unharmed. A round of applause was given to the pickup men, whose quick actions showed the care and responsibility rodeo contractors take in providing for their livestock.

The last special event witnessed Saturday night was in the ladies barrel racing. The final contestant was Nebraska’s well-known barrel racer, June Holeman aboard her respected quarter horse gelding Sparky. Sparky was named barrel horse of the year in 2005 which was also the first year the team qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. June and 22-year-old Sparky have been a team for many years after she purchased him from a friend and have become a crowd favorite at rodeos across the nation.

Being the final runner of the night, June turned in a blistering run of 11.5 seconds. As she rode toward the exit gate the announcer told the crowd they had just watched Sparky make his last run as June planned to retire him after the rodeo. As the crowd watched the dynamic duo leave the arena together for the final time, a standing ovation was giving to the legendary team as they headed for greener pastures.

At the end of the second performance many of the contestants were packing up and heading on to the next rodeo, many had come from the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo., and were stopping through Lincoln before heading up to the Rapid City Stock Show in South Dakota. It was a busy couple weeks for the contestants, however, they made a few very special nights for the rodeo fans in Lincoln, Neb.

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