PALMYRA, Mo. (WGEM) — The 11th Annual Ethan’s Rodeo kicked off Friday night at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Palmyra, Missouri.
Organizers David and Alicia Weiman said the inspiration for the event was their 4-year-old son Ethan, who died in 2009 of neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that mainly affects children.
They said they witnessed the toll that Ethan’s treatment takes, prompting them to start a fundraiser to support neuroblastoma research, to ensure future patients would not suffer as much as their son.
“We’re doing it to raise money for research and we’re doing it this way very specifically because you know, it’s what he would have wanted,” David said.
A cowboy at heart, David said a rodeo was the perfect way to honor Ethan’s legacy.
He liked to wear jeans, boots and western shirts, he liked to go to rodeos,” said David. “When we did Make-A-Wish, he asked for a horse, so we gave him a horse.”
Now in the rodeo’s 11th year, Weiman says they’ve raised more than $300,000 for neuroblastoma research and is happy to be back this year to raise some more, as the pandemic forced them to join last year’s rodeo. to cancel.
“It was a very difficult decision to cancel last year,” said David. “We felt at the time that it was the right decision and we are ready to go this year.
He’s not the only one ready to get back in the stands.
“It’s just awesome,” said Hannibal resident Austin McGee. “It’s great for the community.”
McGee said when his family first attended Ethan’s Rodeo four years ago, they didn’t know the reason behind the event.
“When we heard the story about it, how tragic it was, it drew us in. It just makes it a little bit more personal,” McGee said.
Weiman said there is still more work to be done, but progress has been made when it comes to neuroblastoma research and treatment regimens.
“It’s better now it was when Ethan died,” he said. “That’s how progress is made with those things that you know, little by little.”