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Rope and ride in support of Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center on May 4

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — Faced with uncertain grants and funding, the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center hopes people will saddle up May 4 to support the organization and the more than 300 youth its programs serve.

“This is our first time to do this,” said Doris Graeter of the advocacy center. “But we aren’t doing our bike ride anymore, and grants are being cut every day, so fundraisers like this is what keeps our doors open.”

The “Cowboy Up for Kids,” a day of riding and roping, begins at 9 a.m. at Rodeo Town, 6000 U.S. 281 North in Marble Falls. Younger riders, and some adults, will participate in a play day. Graeter said the youth will compete in cloverleaf barrel racing, poles and other horseback events.

Registration for the play day opens at 8 a.m.

Team roping starts at 2 p.m. with registration at 1 p.m.

Graeter said the two events seemed like a natural fit for HCCA.

“One of our board members is really into team roping and another one is really into play days, so we thought this would be a great fundraiser,” she said.

But it’s not just for those who ride and rope. HCCA is holding a festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the same grounds during which children and adults can enjoy other activities, including face painting, stick-horse racing and concessions. Wristbands are $10.

While the event focuses on fun, the reason behind it isn’t as uplifting. The center provides support and resources for children who have been victimized. Its Sunshine House in Burnet provides a safe, child-friendly environment where youth come if they have been victimized. A specially trained individual will conduct a forensic interview of the abused child.

In the past, a child might have to relive a terrible incident numerous times because various law enforcement agencies might need his or her statements. Through HCCA’s efforts, the child no longer has to suffer through many interviews but typically does one in a “neutral, home-like atmosphere.”

Officials videotape the interviews and provide copies to necessary law-enforcement and legal entities.

But the center’s commitment doesn’t stop there.

“We offer counseling and services to the child and non-offending family members,” Graeter said.

While housed in Burnet, HCCA provides its services to six area counties. Each year, the organization serves between 300 and 325. Graeter said the number is even higher when considering the non-offending family members.

Along with raising money, Graeter said she hopes the event raises awareness about HCCA and the vital role it fills in the community.

For more information, go to www.hccac.org.

daniel@thepicayune.com