Well today is the day. Today is New Year’s Eve to most, but to me, it is my last day as Miss Rodeo Illinois. Over the last year I have had some amazing experiences. Personally, the year has been a uphill climb that has thrown my family and I curve ball after curve ball. Along with those challenges I will remember 2015 for the experiences being Miss Rodeo Illinois allowed me to have. The year was crazy and busy. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my amazing friends and family who supported me and cheered me on along the way. Thank you to my sponsors and supporters that put wings under my boots and diesel in the truck to get me to every rodeo. Thank you to every rodeo committee, announcer and stock contractor that allowed me to chase out cows, make a queen lap or carry the flag.
I’ve gotten to see some of the best rodeos on dirt, meet some amazing people and I have made life long friends. Having a blessing like being Miss Rodeo Illinois made me take a step back and ask my self, “what are you riding for this year?” This year, every time I put my crown and chaps on, I rode with the hopes of telling important stories. Stories that often go untold, like the stories of Deborah Lee and kids like her that fought and are fighting cancer. My first appearance as Miss Rodeo Illinois I was invited to was a very special birthday party for a little boy with cancer. Sam knew he was coming to the end of his valiant battle and requested a 6.5 birthday party, because he knew he wouldn’t be here for his next birthday. I was there for the purpose to make him smile, even if it was just for a moment. That experience was one I will never forget. I will always remember the emotion and failed effort to hold back tears as the whole room stopped in their tracks to sing Sam happy birthday.
Today may be my last day as Miss Rodeo Illinois but I will always be an advocate for kids like Sam, Jonny, Deborah Lee, Kaitlin and so many more. Today I hang my chaps up on an amazing year and pass the crown on to Virginia. After today I will no longer wear the crown and banner of Illinois’ First Lady of Professional Rodeo, but I will always be Miss Rodeo Illinois, Class of 2015.