The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo said it will fulfill its scholarship commitment, despite the event's closure over coronavirus concerns.
"As hard as this is to do, it is the right thing to do," said rodeo president and CEO Joel Cowley.
On Wednesday, March 11, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the event is ending early. A move like this hasn't happened since 1937, according to records. The shut down comes 11 days ahead of the planned March 22 finale.
But along with concerns for the vendors, families were also worried about what the closure would mean for scholarships. Since 1932, the rodeo has been committed to awarding scholarships to students and has committed more than $500 million to the youth of Texas.
In October, the rodeo announced its educational commitment would award more than $14.2 million in scholarships, more than $8.3 million to junior show exhibitors, more than $3.7 million in educational program grants, and more than $650,000 toward graduate assistant programs.
According to the rodeo's scholarship page, more than 800 scholarships are expected to be awarded through the events nine scholarship programs, with each recipient receiving a $20,000 scholarship, money that can be used to go toward a four-year undergraduate degree.
One girl whom CultureMap content partner, ABC13, spoke to was crying as she heard the decision to cancel the rodeo.
"We spent so much time with these animals and thousands of dollars with these animals, and so to get the chance to win back our money, that's devastating, because we're going to be in debt for a long time. That's my college money," the girl said. "So to spend all this time and all this money, it means nothing now."
Another student echoed that comment, saying she spent at least six hours a day with her animal.
The rodeo is also one of the largest scholarship providers in the country.
For more on this story, including video, visit our content partner, ABC13.