On behalf of the McDonald family of Defuniak Springs and K-J Productions, Karley McDonald Leach presented a check for $1,000 to Special Olympics Florida – Walton at the Westonwood Ranch in Freeport. The Walton County Special Needs Rodeo & Open Rodeo was held in DeFuniak Springs at the Walton County Fairgrounds in July to raise money to support the county’s Special Olympics Florida program.

Leach and her family are long time DeFuniak Springs locals with a rich history in the rodeo business. Over the summer, she decided that putting on a rodeo would be a perfect way to give back to her community and Special Olympics FL-Walton program.

“I am so grateful and overwhelmed by the incredible outpouring of support we received in putting on the Walton County Special Needs Rodeo & Open Rodeo,” Leach said at the check presentation. “Sheriff Mike Adkinson and the Walton County Sheriffs’ Office played a huge part in helping to make the event a success through their donation of manpower, money and time.

"My hometown of DeFuniak Springs was wonderfully supportive along with so many friends, family and members of my hometown who volunteered their time and resources," she added. "We could not have done this event without all the work, time, and effort from so many generous people. I am so grateful to everyone who stepped up and went above and beyond to make the Special Needs & Open Rodeo such fun event.”

The funds raised by the event will be used by Special Olympics Florida- Walton county program to allow individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to participate in various sports, the Athlete Leadership, and Healthy Athlete programs. Currently, the local Special Olympics program serves more than 90 athletes who participate in 12 year-round sports including swimming, basketball, bocce, bowling, softball, stand up paddle, surfing and tennis.

Special Olympics Florida – Walton is always in need of both coaches and volunteers. For questions or additional information on how to help, contact SOFL-Walton Volunteer Coordinator Crystal Smith at 850-714-4271 or email volunteer@specialolympicswalton.org. For more information about Special Olympics Florida-Walton, visit specialyolympicswalton.org.