A Vilonia teenager will compete in the National High School Finals Rodeo on July 13 for a chance to be named the NHSFR World Champion and win prizes.
Kaden Vaughn, 18, qualified for a spot on the Arkansas rodeo team and will be traveling with his family and fellow teammates to Rock Springs, Wyoming, to compete in the bareback riding division of the world's largest rodeo.
"He has been wanting to ride bucking horses since he was 4," Vaughn's mother Erica Holland said, adding that Crossroads Cowboy Church in El Paso gave him the chance to fulfill that dream. "The church gave him this opportunity to learn how to do what he loves, and also have helped him grow in to the young man he is. They taught him how to serve the Lord as well."
Vaughn started riding in the church rodeo series three years ago.
"He started riding bucking horses at the Crossroads Cowboy Church in 2015 for their first rodeo series, and he has won Champion every series they have had it," she said. "Kaden won the reserve champion in the Arkansas High School Rodeo Association State finals at the end of May," which earned him the spot on the team to compete in Wyoming.
The NHSFR event will feature more than 1,650 contestants from 43 states, five Canadian provinces, Australia and Mexico. Contestants must place in the top 20 to advance to the finals. World champions in each division will be determined based on their three-round combined scores.
Vaughn's grandparents, Wanda and Leon Holland, will accompany Erica and her fiance, Josh Chamberlain, to Wyoming to cheer on the Vilonia High School senior. Vaughn's best friend, Cole Reames, will compete in the rodeo's Saddlebronc Rider division as well.
Erica said she couldn't be prouder of Vaughn for his riding and for the man he's turned out to be.
"I've been his mom and dad his whole life so to be able to see a kid that has had struggles in his life be able to overcome them and be a tough and strong young man and to put God first always, it make my heart happy to see him succeed in this world. He is going to go far, and I can't wait to see where that will be."
Asked what it takes to be a champion, Vaughn told the Log Cabin: "The good Lord, hard work and to never quit."
Live broadcasts of each NHSFR performance can be viewed at www.RidePass.com. Daily results can be found at NHSRA.com.