GLADEWATER - For the first time, this year's Gladewater Round Up Rodeo will include a dedicated event for people with special needs.
The Gladewater Handicapable Rodeo is all about showing people that no challenge is great enough to stop them from horseback rides, hayrides, roping and other activities.
"They're figuring out ways to include kids that aren't always able to be included," said Charity Robinson.
Of Robinson's five children, three are adopted and have special needs. Her 4-year-old, Lincoln, has sensory processing disorder.
"If there's a lot going on -- a big crowd, lots of lights, lots of noise, sounds -- it gets overwhelming for him quite quickly," Robinson explained.
Soon after, Robinson and her husband adopted Lincoln in 2015, they attended the Gladewater Round Up Rodeo, where they experienced a life changing moment.
"He creeped three little seats down from us and I watched him," she said. "He started talking to this man, pointing to the bulls and then he started jumping in this gentleman's lap and the guy was so kind."
Robinson watched her son, usually scared of adults, make a new friend. She wrote about the emotional moment in a post on Facebook that quickly went viral.
"This is where our story started," Robinson said. "This is where we connected with a lot of people that have special needs kids, and it means a lot that our hometown cared enough of the special needs community they said: 'hey I want to make a difference, I want to give back and I want to include kids that aren't always included in stuff'"
This is the first event of its kind in Gladewater, but Larry Sewell has helped with others just like it across East Texas.
"It actually gives them the freedom to ride a horse by themselves," said Sewell.
An accomplishment made possible by help from special saddles and volunteers guiding on either side.
"The joy you see In their faces when you see them riding a horse by themselves, it'll lighten up your life," said Sewell. "It's a true blessing."
The Gladewater Handicapable Rodeo will be held Saturday, June 10 from 9-11 a.m. at the Gladewater Rodeo Arena.
The free event is open to all kids and adults with special needs.
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