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Riders to saddle up for annual trail ride

By Staff | Dec 31, 2014

If it’s the second Sunday in January, it means it’s time once again to get the horses out of the stable and saddled up for an annual trail ride for a good cause.

The annual fund-raising trail ride to benefit St. Jude Children’s Cancer Research Hospital will be held again on Jan 11 at Endless Trails on Matt Road.

As it has been for the past eight years, this year is a non-judged, just for fun, guided obstacle trail ride which starts at 10 a.m. lasts no more than three hours, followed by a huge barbecued pork dinner with a live band starting at 1:30 p.m.

Last year’s ride drew more than 65 riders and raised more than $3,000. Just as important, it was simply a fun event that allows people to explore Prairie Pine Reserve, said Lark Campisano, organizer of the event.

“It a chance for the horse community to have a good time. The money we raise isn’t huge, but it helps the research and we have fun doing it,” Campisano said.

This annual trail ride started as a small, private affair with a handful of riders and volunteers and had nothing to do with charity.

It raised awareness of Prairie Pine Reserve, located behind Endless Trails, which has for years been the location for a planned site for an interchange on I-75.

“From the advertisement, St. Jude saw that and asked us to do a ride for them. I’ve had cancer in my family and decided I would do that,” Campisano said.

The ride requires a minimum $35 donation, which includes lunch and the chance to win prizes. For just lunch, the charge is $10. All donations will go directly to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, which never turns down a child in need.

Over the years, the trail ride has closed to $10,000 for the hospital, a figure Campisano expects to top.

Trail bosses Virgil, Jamie and Rodney will lead the ride through the preserve. Beaded necklaces will be placed along the trail route, which can be turned in for equine-related prizes donated by local businesses and feed and tack shops.

That will be followed by the barbecued pork lunch (cooked all night by chefs Ray and Gordon), served to the sounds of Eight Second Ride, a local country band that is donating its talents.

“They had cancer in their family,” Campisano said. “They called me and offered to play for free and we took them up on it and we’re happy they’re playing.”

You must bring your own horse. Negative Coggins and signed waivers required. Children 12 and up can ride, but they must be with a parent and wear a helmet.

Please R.S.V.P. Vendor space is available and limited camping is available with reservation.

For more information, call Campisano at 731-3265.