Rolex attendees are showing their support for three injured riders at the 2007 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. US Eventing Association Area VIII and the Equestrian Aid Foundation have a booth in the trade fair where they are doing a thriving business selling T-shirts, wristbands and ribbons to show support for and raise funds for Debbie Atkinson, Kim Meier and Ralph Hill.
Communications Director for the US Eventing Association Amy Daum said, “We’re really happy about what they are doing with the fundraising here. I wish it wasn’t necessary but we hope that it makes a difference. Area VIII’s efforts have been amazing; it’s a true testament to the spirit of eventers, that people reach out and help each other.”
Photo: Christy, Mary Phelps, Janice Gray, and Debbie Atkinson
Sharon Jones of Evansville, IN and Jo Kieffer of Mount Carmel, IL are friends who are volunteering in the Area VIII booth. There are around 25 volunteers working in two-hour shifts throughout the weekend.
“We’ve sold a lot of armbands – everyone wants to help,” said Jones. Kieffer said that in addition to purchasing armbands, key chains and ribbons, people have made many cash donations. “We’ve had hundred dollar bills – someone yesterday gave $200,” she said. “People have just been handing in money, and it’s been pretty steady. There was a lot of information on the Internet beforehand and I think people were looking for us when we got here.”
Several relief efforts have been in action for several months, including local and regional fund-raisers, silent auctions and a fund through the American Horse Trials Foundation. The most recent organization to step up to the plate is the Equestrian Aid Foundation, originally started by dressage Olympian Robert Dover for equestrians coping with the AIDS virus; 2007 is the tenth anniversary of the EAF helping horse people from all walks of life dealing with varying catastrophic setbacks.
Janise Gray, Director and Grant Recipient Services for the EAF, is selling T-shirts and other merchandise at the Area VIII tent to raise money for the injured riders. “It’s great how Area VIII and people here at Rolex have helped,” she said. Gray is a rider and trainer herself, and in 1982 was a working student for Ralph Hill, so she has a personal and professional interest in this cause. Today is specializes in dressage, but said, “Once you’ve evented it’s in your heart. I also live near Kessler, New Jersey, which is where Kim is receiving treatment, and she has an indomitable spirit.”
Gray deals directly with applicants, and said that the Foundation is currently helping riders, a farrier, children, adult amateurs and others from all around the United States. “I just came back from Las Vegas where we held a ‘Divas Las Vegas’ fundraiser and it was a great event,” she said. “That raised money for our general fund, and we also have funds for individuals. I want people to know that any organization of individual can do a fundraiser and target an individual, and can set up a fund through us since we already have 501c3 status. We are all a family of equestrians.”
The Ride for Hope is the Ride for Life
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