St. Albert’s rodeo grounds were teeming with police, firefighters and paramedics abandoning their day jobs to oppose the Broncos. This, of course, is all part of the Edmonton Fire Rodeo raising money for two local charities.
This year’s event is Edmonton’s third annual First Responder Rodeo – which began five years ago but was suspended for two due to COVID-19.
There are about 130 competitors, including Justin Nunes who rode his first rodeo a few years ago.
“Let’s say it didn’t go very well,” he said. “I wasn’t hurt but I definitely didn’t have time.”
There are a number of amateur participants like Nunes who participate in classic events such as horse riding, racing, rope and some not so classic like cowboy poker.
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This is the third year that firefighter and paramedic Brandon Novak has taken part in the event, admitting there were some nerves when we started.
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“There might have been a bit of liquid courage involved,” he admitted.
Aside from the action, it’s all meant to support two charities that work closely with first responders in Alberta: the Zebra Child Protection Centre, which supports children affected by violence; and The Legacy Place Society, an organization that supports first responders, military personnel and their families.
“Knowing that there are so many people supporting them, it means they have a safe space to share their story,” said Nadine Kereliuk, program support coordinator at the Zebra Child Protection Centre.
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“I think it’s important for the community to come together and support first responders,” agreed Diana Festejo, executive director of Legacy Place Society. “They run into these dangerous situations when others run away and we have to take care of them.”
In addition to the high energy events, the community also had the chance to interact with police, EMS and firefighters during the set up of the kiosks.
“They might see things on TV, news, etc.,” said Edmonton Police Service Constable Andrew Hiller. “But it’s first-hand knowledge and they get that experience.”
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