Of all the graphics that adorn Little River Electric Cooperative’s lineman rodeo team T-shirts, none mean more than what is on the left sleeve—t21. The badge is shorthand for trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down syndrome.
Rhett, the 4-year-old son of Little River Electric line crew foreman Bret Timmerman, was born with the genetic disorder caused when there is extra genetic material from chromosome 21. According to Bret, his son’s condition reinforced the bonds of brotherhood he enjoys with the other Little River Electric linemen.
“We all shared in it together when it all came about,” says Timmerman.
Timmerman and two other Little River Electric linemen—Joe Wallace and Dustin Laughlin—were part of the cooperative’s journeyman crew that participated in the 2nd Annual South Carolina Lineman’s Rodeo on March 26 in Conway. The teams rotated through five events in the Journeyman division, practical line work skill challenges such as changing out and replacing different types of power delivery equipment and rescuing a fellow lineman.
“It helps us hone the skills in the work we do every day,” says Timmerman. “In this environment, we’re making sure that we are doing it safely and that helps a lot.”
Volunteers and family members from various co-ops, including Little River Electric, were there to show their support both days. The cooperative affiliated community outreach group WIRE (Women Involved In Rural Electrification) raised $1,319 for the Chavis House at Burn Centers of America in Augusta, which has treated many linemen over the years.