Deanne Stein, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Ram National Circuit Finals were held at Oklahoma State Fair Park on Sunday. But the true winner of this weekend's rodeo is actually a 6-year-old girl from Skiatook.
Savana Duede was surprised with a wish come true from Western Wishes. Savana was crowned as princess by Miss Rodeo Oklahoma and made rodeo royalty for the day. She also got to rub elbows with some rodeo champions.
"It's was very cool," said Savana. "I was very excited."
"She's an amazing little girl," said Kim Dorr, Oklahoma Chapter Director of Western Wishes. "Savana is being rewarded for her fighting spirit."
A fight that started in 2008, when Savana contracted a lung virus called Human Metapneumovirus, which led to other infections and kept her in ICU for more than 45 days. Savana is now left with lung function in only 60% of her left lung and none in her right. Her family has had to be very careful to limit her exposure to germs, so she hasn't been able to participate in any exerting physical activities. But that hasn't stopped her.
A nurse, who cared for her in the hospital, gave her a live horse! It was meant to be a distraction from her disability, but has instead, turned into a passion for Savana.
"My horse's name is Rocky," said Savana. "He usually tries to act up on me, but he's probably the fastest horse."
In just over a year, she started competing in the NJRA (Northeast Junior Rodeo Association). She competes in barrel racing, pole bending and goat un-decorating. Savana also won the title of Skiatook Round Up Club Sweetheart and hopes to one day be crowned Miss Rodeo USA.
Western Wishes grants wishes to children and young adults like Savana, who are faced with adversity and who also live and love the western way of life. Dorr knows all too well, how much those granted wishes mean to the recipients and their families.
"My son was a recipient last year," said Dorr. "I know the joy that comes with seeing your child interact with the people they grow up loving and seeing every day on TV and all of a sudden they're right in front of you."
Now, as the Western Wishes' Oklahoma Chapter Director, Dorr hopes to grant even more wishes to deserving young people.
"What's amazing to me is to be able to pay that forward to other families," she said. "The more fundraisers and donations we have the more wishes we can do and the bigger those wishes can be."