RoundUp Rodeo honors legacy of Chase Anderson, provides rodeo experience to cowpokes with special needs

From the horse riding to the calf roping areas, the beaming smiles on the face of each cowpoke and their buddy reflected why the 2018 Chase Anderson RoundUp Rodeo was the biggest event yet.

Each year, the Chase Anderson RoundUp Rodeo at the Rockin' A Arena near Palmyra honors the legacy of Chase Anderson and brings the full rodeo experience to visitors with special needs. RoundUp Rodeo President Austee VonAhn said the fun-filled day of activities ran in conjunction with the Muscular Dystrophy Association Chase Anderson Rodeo on Friday and Saturday evenings. In every part of the arena, rodeo action was in full swing, including calf roping, bronc riding (with a simulated bronc that buddies could move with a handle), calf roping, face painting, goat feeding, therapeutic horse riding and dancing. VonAhn's brother Chase passed away in 2011 as a result of muscular dystrophy, and the rodeo honors his legacy as it spreads more and more happiness to cowpokes each year.

“We've been super blessed that they keep coming out of the woodwork,” she said. “We're excited about that.”

The free rodeo attracted participants of all ages, and Von Ahn said two particular activities — horse riding and dancing — proved to be especially popular. VonAhn's husband, Ryan, has been a horse walker for several years, and he joined dozens of volunteers who assisted with various activities and accompanied each cowpoke. Mark Nelson was in line to ride the horse for a second time, talking with Palmyra High School baseball player Jacob Kroeger. Nelson said that his favorite part of the rodeo brought back fond memories.

“I used to ride horses when I was younger,” he said.

Kroeger said that Chase's mom, Chloe Anderson-Lovelace, asked members of his baseball team if they could come help out as buddies. He said some fellow team members joined him to help make an impact.

“You really get to count your blessings that you have in your life, being out here helping people,” he said. “It's a great experience for all of us.”

VonAhn wanted to thank Breadeaux Pizza for providing the pizza for everyone's lunch during the rodeo, and dozens of volunteers helped out, including Palmyra baseball players, cowboys and cowgirls from the evening rodeo, friends, community members and members of the Anderson family.

“My dad grew up with 14 brothers and sisters,” she said. “They all come in like an army and get this place ready so it's awesome.”

Shelly Eide, whose brothers Joel and Shaun Anderson own the Rockin' A Arena, talked with Bene Buckman about what he enjoyed the most. He enjoyed the chance to feed the goats and ride the horses — he smiled as he waited for his turn to ride again, too.

Even as lunch time drew near, there were no signs of the action slowing down — including a dance floor full of excited cowpokes and buddies. VonAhn summed up the what the The Chase Anderson RoundUp Rodeo has been all about from the beginning — “just seeing the joy.”

“You walk around, and this day is completely about them — which I love,” she said.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at