A special rodeo experience awaited the cowgirl who performed “Amazing Grace” during the Chase Anderson MDA Memorial Rodeo.

A special rodeo experience awaited the cowgirl who performed “Amazing Grace” during the Chase Anderson MDA Memorial Rodeo.

After she sang before the crowd, Jenna Dunbar soaked in the entire rodeo experience with fellow cowgirls and cowboys with special needs during the RoundUp Rodeo on April 21 and April 22, at the Rockin' A Arena in Palmyra. Dressed up in Western outfits and cowboy hats, employees at County Market in Hannibal helped support families with special needs, joining a County Market store in Quincy to collect a total of $2,028 by selling paper cowboy hats. The Hannibal store raised $1,685, with the Quincy store contributing the rest, said Customer Service Manager Robin Arthaud.

“County Market in Hannibal definitely rocked it,” said Chloe Anderson-Lovelace, Vice President of the Chase Anderson Memorial MDA Rodeo and the RoundUp Rodeo.

She said the memorial rodeo is in honor of her son, Chase Anderson, who passed away in 2011 with Muscular Dystrophy and autism. His father, Joel Anderson, and his sisters, Bailee Anderson and President Austee VonAhn, have been active in the event that raises funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The RoundUp Rodeo takes place during the same weekend as the memorial rodeo, offering the rodeo experience to cowboys and cowgirls of all ages and their buddies. Dunbar smiled as she remembered her favorite parts of the event, joined by her niece and nephew from Columbia, Owen and Emma Alexander.

She said she enjoyed activities like riding the mechanical bull, riding Sugar the horse, face painting and line dancing. The cowboys and cowgirls also got to use paint to put their handprints on a horse named Casino.

Anderson-Lovelace said more than 120 participants participated in the RoundUp Rodeo. Breadeaux Pizza donated pizza for the event at Rockin' A Arena. VonAhn said many of her brother's friends enjoy coming to the RoundUp Rodeo each year.

The funds from the cowboy hat donations would support local families with special needs, VonAhn said. Anderson-Lovelace said she would be looking at wish lists from Mississippi Valley School and Marion County Services for the Developmentally Disabled to determine ways to help.

For Anderson-Lovelace and her son's loved ones and friends, the Chase Anderson Memorial MDA Rodeo and the RoundUp Rodeo offered a weekend of fun and camaraderie.

“Giving back to our special needs community is close to our heart. It's a passion for us to see all of our special needs families get to enjoy it,” Anderson-Lovelace said. Robin Arthaud, Hannibal County Market Customer Service Manager, felt the same way about the cause.

“I think everybody is touched by special needs in one way or another,” Arthaud said. I know I have special needs children in my family — and I want to make a difference and I wanted my team to get excited about it.”

With all the smiling faces from everyone who chipped in at County Market and during the rodeos, it was clear that excitement levels were strong.

“Next year, we may have to line dance or something,” Arthaud said with a laugh.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com