BRODEO a rodeo for children with special needs

Published 5:24 am Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Local children with special needs will have the opportunity to participate in a bonafide rodeo at the inaugural “BRODEO, Brody Meaux Memorial Rodeo with a Special Touch.”

JoAnn and Jimmy Meaux conceptualized this all-day event in honor of their late son, Brody Meaux, who passed away in 2019 at 20 years old due to complications of MECP2 Duplication Syndrome. MECP2 causes “every aspect of the human body to be affected from progressive deterioration of the functions of the body leading to total care as the child ages,” said JoAnn.

“BRODEO was started all because God chose to bless my husband and I with his precious angel,” she said. “This rodeo is done in memory of him.”

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This season of life brought JoAnn a greater understanding of the life of a person with special needs. “Through Brody’s eyes, we learned about the world of special children and their needs and wants,” she said. “I have years of experience and knowledge with severe health issues, critical care, special education and many other issues a child with critical health needs faces in life and education.”

She said creating this event is their way of giving back. “BRODEO is my way of thanking God for the experience I was given with Brody and to give a special rodeo experience for several local children with special needs.”

Providing positive experiences for the children that need it is the community’s responsibility, she said. “It is extremely important to me personally for these children to be given everything any other child has the chance to experience in life,” she said. “Special needs children didn’t ask for the body they were given, and should never be restricted by anybody from all life experiences.

“These children were given to us to learn from and provide us with life experiences many people will never get the chance to have.”

The Meauxs partnered with the Calcasieu Parish School Board’s Special Education Department to bring this event to life. “They jumped on board wholeheartedly to help provide these rodeo experiences to special education children.”

JoAnn took the time to ensure this event would be beneficial for the children. “I have researched this special needs rodeo for quite a while, and have designed it with consideration for all needs of the child with special needs from mild to severe, even including wheelchairs,” she said. “I have a committee that works with me, and we have discussed and researched every avenue these kids might have and how to accommodate them.”

Participants in BRODEO were invited through the school system and educational and therapeutic entities. One hundred and seventy-five elementary special education children will be accommodated at BRODEO.

The children will participate in an array of traditional rodeo activities. Upon arrival, they will get dressed for the part with cowboy hats, bandanas, back numbers and stick horses, before engaging in the rodeo events: Bucking Bull, Rope the Steer, Barrels and Poles.

Participants will also have the opportunity to meet local rodeo stars -queens, clowns, cowboys, cowgirls, professional and high school contestants and surprise, special guests — pet shetland ponies and calves and memorialize their time at BRODEO with photos taken in front of themed backdrops and chuckwagons.

Participants will receive goodies, including a coloring book and “rodeo trinkets.”

This event is in conjunction with the Southwest District Livestock Show & Rodeo in Lake Charles. All extra funds raised will be donated to MECP2 Duplication Syndrome research, as well as the Brody Meaux Memorial Scholarship, an annual 4-H scholarship that is awarded to one 4-H livestock exhibitor in Calcasieu Parish.

Seventy-five volunteers plan to help at the event. JoAnn expressed her gratitude for those that came together to make BRODEO a reality. “This event can’t take place without the help of our community and sponsors.”

The volunteers will serve as “group leaders, event coordinators and teachers,” said JoAnn. They will decorate, set up events, direct students throughout the coliseum and provide “friendly faces” to make the children feel as comfortable as possible.

Children will gather for BRODEO at 8:30 a.m. at the Burton Coliseum on Wednesday, Feb. 1. This is significant, as Brody’s birthday is Feb. 2. “God worked that out,” she said. “Maybe next year it will be on Brody’s birthday.”