On June 23, hundreds of people gathered at the Lea Park Rodeo grounds to support the 1st Annual Ronald McDonald House Barrel Race.
Fourteen-year-old, Ryen Freeman, from Marwayne organized the event as a way to give back to an organization that supported her throughout the past year. In the spring of 2017, Ryen and her family spent five months at the Ronald McDonald House in Calgary after Ryen lost the use of her legs due to the trauma of several concussions.
After spending five months in a wheelchair, her recovery is remarkable, and Ryen is not only able to walk but able to work her horses and compete in barrel racing again, which has been a passion of hers from a young age.
Before her hospital stay, Ryen braided and assembled reins as a way to raise her own rodeo entry fees. Throughout her recovery, Ryen continued making and donating the reins to other rodeo events as a way to keep her connected to the industry while she was away, as well as to help develop her dexterity and balance.
According to Ryen’s mother Tressa, it costs the Ronald McDonald House Foundation approximately $30,000 per month to operate.
Once the family chose to host the barrel racing event, the Lea Park Rodeo Association donated the grounds and their time during the event, so all of the proceeds totalling $9,400 were donated to the Southern Alberta Ronald McDonald House.
Because Ryen is a youth donor to the Ronald McDonald House, the Shaw Giving Team will match her donation. The event saw 201 competitors including peewee, youth, and open barrel racers.
“Thank you to everyone who supported this event; it means the world to me. It will go on to help out so many more families. I love the small community feeling in Marwayne. Knowing everyone creates such an amazing support system,” said Ryen.
Ryen’s story will also be aired in an interview on CTV News Calgary on July 10, at 5:55 p.m.
To see more about the barrel racing event, you can search ‘Ronald McDonald House Barrel Race’ on Facebook, and to find out more about Ryen’s business, you can search ‘Ryen’s Reins’ on Facebook. To donate to the Ronald McDonald House through Ryen, you can visit https://www.rmhccanada.ca/fundraiser/Supporting-Ryen.