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Ropin’ makes dreams come true

Ropin’ makes dreams come true
Weston Wright of La Vernia gets up close and personal with a beluga whale during a recent trip to SeaWorld in San Antonio with the Ropin’ Dreams organization.

Unfortunately in our local community, surrounding areas, and all over the world, there are many children facing life-threatening illnesses and/or injuries. These children are faced with daily struggles that most adults couldn’t overcome, but they keep giving their all and facing what life has thrown at them. These children often dream of having fun and doing things other kids get to do just for one day. Thanks to one organization, these children’s dreams can come true.

Ropin’ Dreams is a nonprofit organization out of Marion that grants dreams to children with life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Started in 2002 by Dub and Cindy McClister, Ropin’ Dreams has fulfilled dreams for children all over Texas and is hoping to grow even bigger.

They fulfill local children’s dreams by taking them to rodeos, such as the NFR in Las Vegas; Spurs games; SeaWorld; and on other special trips.

Every year, Ropin’ Dreams takes up to 25 children and their families to the San Antonio Rodeo for a full day of fun. The families get to meet the cowboys and cowgirls performing in the rodeo, the Spurs Coyote, and Miss Rodeo Texas. This year at the rodeo, Hailey Knox from La Vernia, who was one of the first Ropin’ Dreams participants, came back as a special guest and spoke to the children and their families to give them encouragement, hope, and faith.

Recently, Ropin’ Dreams directors Donna Carrola of Stockdale and Kelly Emmons of San Antonio took Weston Wright of La Vernia to SeaWorld.

Weston has been diagnosed with Septo-Optic Dysplasia, or De Morsier’s Syndrome, which is an early brain-development disorder.

Weston got to touch dolphins, beluga whales, and a very large lizard. His mom said it was really great for him to touch the animals that he’s only heard about.

“Weston actually does a really good dolphin laugh that he did for everyone while he was there, and it was great,” Carrola said.

Along with Weston, Ropin’ Dreams took three other children to SeaWorld; all were referred by CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital.

“It was amazing and so heart-filling to see these children laugh, feed and touch the animals, and of course, get splashed by Shamu,” Carrola said. “One of the boys actually got out of his wheelchair and was running around and riding rides with Weston’s older brother Nick and his friend Ryan that was an amazing moment in itself.”

The young boy’s mother said, “This is wonderful, because he never gets to do things with other kids since he is home-schooled now due to his illness.”

All of the children and their families were treated to backstage private feedings of the dolphins and beluga whales and they also received special reserved “wet” seats at the Shamu Believe Show. After spending the whole morning together and enjoying the lunch together, the families were all free to go enjoy the park for as long as they wanted.

“The greatest thing was that they all stayed together and went and enjoyed the rides as a group,” Carrola said. “These families share so much in common and often see each other at the hospital for treatments. They have a special bond that is unspeakable and I felt privileged to be able to share in this day with them.”

As many may know, Sophie Sparks of La Vernia is also battling cancer. When Sophie is feeling up to it, her “Dream” is to swim with the dolphins and Ropin’ Dreams is already working to fulfill that dream for her. Ropin’ Dreams also participated in the “Team Sophie” benefit April 23 in New Berlin.

Each year, Ropin’ Dreams holds a team roping, bull riding, and ranch rodeo as their annual fundraiser. Without the volunteers, sponsorships, and donations, the dreams would not be possible.

“My husband and I have been involved with Ropin’ Dreams for going on six years now, and I can’t tell you how much it has changed our lives and made us appreciate the small things,” Carrola said. “When I became a director last year, I set a goal to get the word out to people that there is this wonderful organization to help these children and their families. Unfortunately, there are so many children that are ill and their families don’t have the means to provide them with just a day of fun. That’s why I want everyone to know that we are there to help those children and families have that day,” Carrola said.

To make a donation, be a sponsor, or nominate a child for a dream, visit or call Carrola at 830-237-9491.

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