Ranch Rodeo raises $2,000 to aid CASA with ever-rising case load
Most abused, neglected children they serve come from Hopkins County
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

April 16, 2006 -- The 2nd Annual Sulphur Springs Ranch Rodeo, held last weekend at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center, raised $2,000 for Lake Country Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children.

"The money will be especially helpful to serve and train CASA volunteers because of the increasing number of children we serve," Lake Country CASA Executive Director Gina Law said. "We have to have and train more volunteers. This will be used to help us do that."

Last year alone, CASA added 35 more children to its case load than the 158 children served by CASA volunteers in 2004. Of the four counties Lake Country CASA serves, Hopkins had the most number of children. Of the 193 children on CASA's list last year, 78 were from Hopkins County, 24 Rains County, 28 in Franklin County and 63 in Titus County.

Law attributed the increase in numbers to more awareness and reporting of abused and neglected children, and noted that it takes the work and cooperation of even more people to make sure those children's interests and needs are being met. Officials in Hopkins County fielded more than 400 reports of child abuse in 2005. At least 78 of those reports resulted in findings of neglect or abuse in which the court system determined a CASA volunteer was needed to act in and make recommendations for those children.

"Abuse prevention is a community   responsibility, and finding solutions depends on involvement among all people," Law noted in a proclamation signed by Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap and approved by Hopkins County Commissioners Court in recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

"Effective child abuse prevention programs succeed because of partnerships among a variety of entities including but not limited to schools, religious organizations, CASAs, children's advocacy centers, prosecution agencies, medical professionals, mental health professionals, and other community-based non-profit organizations," the proclamation notes, along with county officials' plea for all citizens to become involved in the awareness effort.

Sulphur Springs Ranch Rodeo is scheduled during April to generate awareness of child abuse as a problem and the need for more awareness and prevention while providing a fun family outing and a venue for  ranch hands to show off their skills. The largest portion of the funds raised at the ranch rodeo are then given to Hopkins County CASA.

This year, additional contributions to Ranch Rodeo were designated to help grant a wish for an area child through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

An admission fee is charged for the event, and prizes donated for the rodeo winners. This year, the ranch rodeo was especially thrilling with a triple finish — Pogue Cattle Company of Sulphur Springs, Triangle Calf Growers of Wildarado and the Rafter A of Paris all tied for first place overall.

The Pogue Cattle Company team consisted of Kenny Crowson, Leon Ely, Lee Pogue and Logan Pogue. Robby Connot, David Hart, David Allison, David Carpenter made up the Rafter A team, while Tim Spiva, Cody Spiva, Clint Spiva and Rodey Wilson filled out the Triangle Calf Growers team. 

 Pogue Cattle team member Leon Ely's horse Tex was named top horse. Triangle Calf Growers' Tim Spiva was named top hand, and the hard luck cowboy title went to Pickton native Tode Johnson of the G Bar Ranch team.

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