Roping steers, cattle drives and saddle breaking horses might sound like something you’d see in a western movie but in Calcasieu and surrounding parishes it is a way of life. Attending rodeos and showing livestock are deeply rooted in the community with generations of families participating. As part of their appreciation for this way of life and to honor the memory of their son, Jimmy and JoAnn Meaux have started an inclusive rodeo experience as well as a memorial scholarship.
Brody Meaux, who had MECP2 duplication syndrome, died in 2019 at the age of 20. The syndrome affects every aspect of the human body with progressive deterioration. Brody attended Calcasieu Parish schools graduating in 2019 and enjoyed the rabbit project as a 4-H member. To honor Brody and develop awareness of MECP2 duplication, the Meaux family established the Brody Meaux Scholarship, which is awarded annually to livestock exhibitors at the Southwest District Livestock Show.
JoAnn Meaux began researching the concept of a rodeo event for children who might not traditionally be able to participate after learning of a similar event at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Soon, the concept of BRODEO, The Brody Meaux Memorial Rodeo with a Special Touch, was launched. Alongside Jimmy, who serves as district show manager and LSU AgCenter agent, they partnered with supporters to offer the free event in conjunction with the 84th Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo.
In partnership with the Calcasieu Parish School Board, the event hosted nearly 200 children who were able to meet rodeo queens and participate in events such as bucking bulls and running barrels. After a fun-filled experience, the participants took home a rodeo coloring book and trinkets. A primary objective was to give the children a one-of-a-kind experience to honor a child that touched many lives.
“He was just really a gift from God,” Jimmy Meaux said, “and we had the experience of taking care of him here on Earth.”
JoAnn Meaux shared that her dream was to provide children with the opportunity to have a happy and joyful experience that they might never get anywhere else.
“It is extremely important to me personally for these children to be given everything any other child has the chance to experience in life,” she said. “Children with special needs didn’t ask for the body they were given and should never be restricted by anybody from all life experiences. This is what I advocated and worked so hard to do for my son while he was here with us. These children were given to us to learn from and provide us with life experiences many people will never get the chance to have.”
Many volunteers and supporters would agree that they learned from the BRODEO experience. Teen volunteers from 4-H and FFA, as well as members of the McNeese State University rodeo team, volunteered with 75 others from community agencies to help the Meaux family provide this memorable opportunity.
Mandie Zaunbrecher, the parent of a child attending the event, said this was a chance for the volunteers to bring some joy into the lives of children and learn a little bit about themselves. “Not everybody gets this opportunity, so it teaches them how to grow as a person by helping someone who doesn’t have the same ability as they do,” Zaunbrecher said.
A Brodeo participant is all smiles while interacting with a miniature quarter horse.
The youth participating in the Brodeo enjoyed meeting students from the McNeese State Rodeo Team. Photos by Toby Lepley.
Brodeo participants enjoyed interacting with goats and other animals.
Volunteers shared that they enjoyed the Brodeo experience as much as the participants.