In 1985 we received a call from a long-time friend, Pete Pedrazzi, a California Rodeo Salinas volunteer. Pete had seen an event at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and told us he wanted to bring it to the California Rodeo Salinas. So with a unique sponsorship from Tanimura & Antle and inspiration from Pete, the “Special Buckaroos” rodeo began. This year marks the 30th year this event has been made possible with our sponsorship and we could not be happier to support such a fantastic event!
For those who haven’t heard of Special Buckaroos, program participants are able to participate in accessible versions of Barrel Racing, Team Roping, Bull Riding and Goat Tying in the main arena and on the front track by the grand stands, just like the professional cowboys and cowgirls. The kids accepted for Special Buckaroos were born with a range of disabilities and are students with the Special Education Program through the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE).
Connie Reins, coordinator of the annual event meets with a team at the MCOE each June and together they select a group of children who will have the opportunity to participate in the event. “Thanks to the generous sponsorship from Tanimura & Antle, each child leaves that day with a cowboy hat, bandana, rodeo contestant number, personalized trophy, trick rope, picture with their cowboy or cowgirl buddy, contestant bag filled with goodies and a BIG smile on their face” Connie said. The California Rodeo Salinas is able to influence 25 kids’ lives a year with the help of our sponsorship.
Each child is partnered up with a Professional Rodeo contestant, bull fighting clown, or member of the Tanimura and Antle families. They participate in a series of Rodeo events including a “bucking horse” and a “bucking bull” (planks with hay bales and fake fur animals), roping dummies, and they get to choose from three real horses to ride around the barrels. The Special Buckaroos committee mans each of the events and the children move from station to station with their cowboy or cowgirl “buddy”. The professional rodeo announcers follow the children, interviewing many of them and getting the crowd as involved as they possibly can.
Additionally, there are animals for the children to pet and learn how to groom such as baby calves, miniature burros, dogs and goats. Upon completion of the “Special Buckaroos” Rodeo, contestants get to have their picture taken and they are led to a table filled with awards (ribbons, trophies, buckles and the same contestant bag that the adult contestants get.) All contestants are invited to stay at the California Rodeo Salinas with their families and watch the rodeo performance with their new Professional Rodeo friends!
Imagine this: for an hour, these children get to feel like a real cowboy or cowgirl. They forget about the struggles in their daily life. They get to ride a real horse. They meet a real cowboy, rodeo clown or cowgirl and become real Rodeo Stars.
“These children have been dealt a tough life in many ways, and this event gives them something they remember for a lifetime” Connie said thankfully. “This program has touched the hearts of many children and we hope to continue the tradition for years to come.”
The Tanimura & Antle families will continue to support this event annually. Today, the next generation of ownership from the Antle family takes great pride in being a part of the organization and execution of the event. This year, Brian and his wife Amanda Antle, Jeff Antle, Michael and his wife Kaitlin Antle, and Caitlin and her husband Patrick Wilson will all be there to help ensure another great event!