Salem, Va. – The Salem Stampede rodeo is back in town Friday night, and will once again entertain a packed house as cowboys and cowgirls show off their skills. But it's more than just a show that comes to town once a year. For years, they've been helping local kids in need here in our community.
Kevin DeBusk, who works on marketing the rodeo, says a big part of what they do is giving back to kids who look up to them and need some time just to be kids.
"It’s an opportunity for families to get away from what has become the unfortunate norm to be in a happy place for a time,” DeBusk said.
From making then 5-year-old Carter Craig who was battling a brain tumor king of the rodeo for a night, to giving Rowan Price and her a family a special night at the show, and even visiting the hospital bed of 17-year-old Caleb Calhoun who was then unable to compete because he was battling cancer, over the years the rodeo has stayed true to its southern roots, placing family first.
“We feel what the family feels and in rodeo we've always talked about being a family,” DeBusk said.
“Rodeo as a whole…isn't just about coming in and putting on a show and leaving -it's about being part of the community and touching people's lives."
The list of young hearts they've touched over the years is a long one.
“It’s about healing the entire family, not just one individual. To see those kids smile and just in awe of being up close to a 1,500 pound bull or the cowboy that takes just a second to say ‘hi, how are you? Makes it really cool,” DeBusk said.
This year a portion of their ticket sales for the Sunday show at 2 p.m. will go to the local Ronald McDonald house.
Tickets purchased online through 5 p.m. Friday will count toward the charity.
A check will be presented to the organization at the opening show Friday night at 7:30.