The Partner Up Rodeo, an annual experience for students with disabilities, was held Wednesday at the Wild West Arena in North Platte.

The partner up rodeo was supported by the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association for more than eight years. In 2012, the event expanded to include ESU 16 as a host partner, with support from the MPCC Rodeo teams from McCook and North Platte.

Community volunteers from area businesses and schools also donate time, horses and smiles to help the kids have a great day, organizers say.

Participants have the opportunity to ride a horse, throw a rope, ride in a horse-drawn wagon and participate in other activities more while partnered with a junior or senior high school student or a college rodeo athlete.

The social interaction of the kids and community members is unique. The “rodeo” will continue to be supported by ESU 16, the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association and businesses in the area, the ESU said.

This year, 200 students with disabilities participated alongside 104 student volunteers and more than 100 community volunteers — the largest turnout yet, organizers said.

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