The Silver Spurs Rodeo runs deep in tradition, and one of the favorites of many Spurs members is the Sunday morning special needs rodeo, called the special rodeo, which leads into the final performance of the weekend.

Longtime Spurs member Fran McLaughlin, who earned the riding club’s Women’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year, helped get the invitational event started back in the 1980s when she saw something similar happen at a national rodeo in Las Vegas.

“We saw their exceptional rodeo and wondered why no one had starting something like it here,” said McLaughlin, who has a special needs child of her own. “I asked the lady who put it on, who was from New Mexico, to come put one on here, and she did but it cost $5,000 to bring everything she needed with her. I went door-to-door to raise that money to put it on.”

After that, the Silver Spurs Club picked it up, and it’s become a Silver Spurs Rodeo Sunday morning tradition.

“I’m excited about how it’s grown to this and these kids are able to what the rodeo cowboys can do. I couldn’t even imagine this,” she said.

It went on hiatus in the 2000s while the new Silver Spurs Arena was being built. It returned in 2005 and has gone strong with the help of cowboys, rodeo queens and volunteers, under the direction of Spurs members Sara Berlinsky and Bridget Wilder and a handful of other volunteers.

Sunday, nearly 100 wide-eyed kids, many who’ve been part of it before, paired up with a cowboy or rodeo queen, who helped them work their way around the rodeo ring with their families, helping out using a lasso, petting a farm animal and even riding a horse or (gentle) mechanical bull.

Makayla Baker is this year’s Miss Rodeo Palm Beach County and has been a Spurs member “since birth” as a descendant of the legacy Partin family. She teamed up with 5-year-old Ian in his first year at the special needs rodeo, and beamed with an ear-to-ear grin while introducing him to rodeo.

“Honestly, this is the coolest thing we’ve done all weekend,” said Baker.

Chris Baker, this year’s Rodeo Big Boss, said the Sunday rodeo should remain an Osceola rodeo tradition for years to come.

“This gives these kids a chance to get out here on the dirt and experience the rodeo. During our show, they can get caught up in the lights and the noise and things happen so fast, we can bring up the lights and let them get dirty and be included.

“We thank goodness Fran brought this to the Spurs and it’s been a hit ever since, and it’s a great way for us to start Sunday, because after the weekend we’re all a little tired. This re-energizes us. It’s very special, and we’re blessed to have this event.

To Positively Osceola… this is what community is about. Celebrating heritage, celebrating tradition, welcoming positive change, and loving and caring for those in our community. We thank the Silver Spurs Riding Club for making a Positive Difference in and around Osceola County!