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Record Breaking $12,000 Raised for SIRE
Record Breaking $125,000 Raised for SIRE

Fog gave way to sunshine just in time Saturday October 13th for several hundred SIRE supporters to celebrate raising a record-breaking $125,000 at the CGG Veritas Saddle Up for SIRE Ride-a-thon in Cat Spring, Texas. Having a trail ride fundraiser seems especially appropriate since SIRE exists to bring horses and people with special needs together, working to improve their quality of life through therapeutic horsemanship activities and therapies.

"SIRE has had many wonderful Ride-a-thon years; great supporters which includes volunteers, families, as well as sponsors; and a very hard-working, caring staff. It all came together this year under the direction of our new and dynamic Executive Director, Lili Kellogg, to help us raise around 30% more than our previous best year," noted development director, Sabrina Strawn, who is also the spouse of a SIRE client.

SIRE rider Shelby Day, 22, can now call herself "Trail Boss," a title she earned by raising more than $9,800 for SIRE. The Katy resident "was on an emotional rollercoaster," said her mother, Kari Day. The fretting and her hard work paid off as Shelby laughingly accepted the accolades and custom belt buckle. "SIRE has helped me do things that I would never have been able to do without the therapeutic riding. One of my dreams is that SIRE and everyone there will always be a part of my life. I love SIRE," Shelby stated in her winning appeal. The Arabian Spirit Riders, top money-raising team, contributed to Shelby's efforts.

Katy resident and SIRE rider Alexandra "Alex" Dumas, 24, relies on her "sweetheart," Hootie, to carry her to blue ribbons in horse shows. This year, Alex proudly posed by herself as she accepted the 2nd place client fundraiser award. The Mustang Sallies raised funds on Alex's behalf and claimed "best-dressed team" with the human team members decked out in pink and horses sporting pink leis. Gloria Hogue, Katy resident and mother of Alex, likes that clients directly benefit not just from the funds raised but also from experiences gained on the trail ride itself. Houston Heights resident Mark Strawn, Champions Forest resident Nathaniel Hunter, Woodlands resident Megan Fry, and Pearland resident Emma Schack rounded out the top six client fundraisers. Their age range, from 5 to 52, exemplifies SIRE's wide-ranging appeal and effects.

Co-chairs Frank Brooks of Brooks and Sparks engineering firm and Amy Lundblad welcomed riders from all over to David Reznicek's 7IL Trails for the trail ride. 2013 marks the 12th time SIRE has held its premier outdoor fundraiser at 7IL, the 20th time the event has been held overall. More than 100 supporters brought their horses and rode. Nearly forty SIRE clients also rode, in their case along a trail with specially designed stops featuring activities reminiscent of an old-time Western town. The activities were assisted and applauded by several hundred family members and volunteers from SIRE, National Charity League chapters from Katy and Cypress, and the Houston Junior League. All had the opportunity to participate in a family carnival, sit down to barbecue, and cheer on the Saddle up! winners.

Jill Butler, Sugarland resident and pet groomer in the Memorial area, triumphs yet again as the top money-raising volunteer. "I love doing it for the kids," she says. Jill especially appreciates SIRE efforts to bring more clients to ride-a-thon this year. To provide more entertainment for siblings and others, SIRE rounded up a bounce house, petting zoo and carnival in addition to the delicious barbecue provided by Jeff Rister's Texas Country Cookers. First time ride-a-thon rider and Richmond resident Marie Tanagho raised more than $900 and walked away with the top trail rider fundraiser award. Marie has seen the difference riding can make after helping her employer's son learn to walk and even run by teaching him to ride her horse.

At SIRE, 200 riders benefit from weekly lessons at SIRE's locations in Hockley, Richmond, and Spring. Pat Roddy, captain of the winning team, Arabian Spirit Riders, says "We are thrilled to be able to help SIRE by raising money for this wonderful event. Many of the Gulf Coast Arabian Horse Club members volunteer every week at SIRE and they love to see how horseback riding improves the lives of SIRE riders." Janet Hopkins, volunteer coordinator at SIRE's Hockley location, adds, "We always have room for more volunteers and are always interested in looking at gentle, well-behaved horses too." All three locations train volunteers before each semester and as needed.

See SIRE's website, www.sire-htec.org, for more information about events and opportunities or email Sabrina Strawn, SIRE's development director at sstrawn@sire-htec.org.

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