Just like many other children, I spent the better portion of my childhood being told that talking to strangers could lead to very bad things and that hospitals are not the place that one should want to spend an afternoon, and that sharing any sort of vehicle with a police officer could lead to a lifetime of restriction; too bad that these lessons aren’t really true.
I have had more magical memories made in hospitals, police stations, and speaking to strangers this year than I have had in my entire life. If I had heeded that age-old advice, I would have never met the couple in the hospital in Idaho that asked me to say hi to a young coboy that grew up near them, “Matt Sh-something-a.” Or taking a ride in a sheriff’s helicopter after spending a day practicing my law enforecement skills at the station in Bakersfield would not have been a possibility. The best part was spending time with perfect strangers. It is amazing how standing out in a crowd can sometimes draw you to the most interesting people that you might ever come into contact with. It is amazing the things that you can learn when you speak to someone that, ordinarily, you never would.
This year has been everything I thought it would be and more. I traveled all over the country, participated in some of the biggest rodeos that the PRCA holds and even got the opportunity to go to Calgary for the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. It almost doesn’t seem fair. There are so many people that share in making this experience possible and I’m the one that gets to do the traveling.
The MRC Board and everyone involved in allowing California to have a Miss Rodeo are incredible. It takes year-round volunteers to help give young ladies like myself this chance. This group of individuals deserves so much more credit and acknowledgement than what they receive. Words cannot describe my gratitude to everyone.
Donna Riva is a very special lady. Not only does she make sure that the ladies representing this sport look fabulous, she dedicates so much of her time and herself to this organzation. I could not have done it without her. I know it has been a year in which she has faced many challeneges and I have so much respect and admiration for her.
My family put up with so much through the years. I am truly blessed to have such a strong support system at home and, if most people could see what my family put up with, most wouldn’t stick around.
It took me a long time to make this dream a reality. At one of the last rodeos I attended as Miss Rodeo California, I was asked what the key to becoming Miss Rodeo California is. My answer flew out of my mouth before I even really knew what I was saying. It was simple and perfect: persistence and a passion for the sport of rodeo and the western way of life. That is all you need. You don’t have to have a crown on your head to have it, either. My involvement in this industry does not end here. I will always have a passion for this sport and sharing it with others is something that just comes naturally.
This year will be an unforgettable year for Miss Rodeo California 2013, Dakota Skellenger. I wish her all the best in her travels and look forward to hearing about her experiences.
With all my love,
Offically, a “has-been”