Trail ride to benefit sick kids

Published 7:55 am Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CAPRON—St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is nearly 900 miles away from Capron, but it will be close to many people’s hearts on May 2.

That’s because hundreds of horseback lovers are expected to hit the trails there to raise money for the well-known Memphis-based hospital, which helps fight childhood cancer and other diseases.

Saddle Up for St. Jude will take riders on horseback through miles of trails at Raccoon Creek Sports, 2,100 acres of rural Southampton County land owned by Bruce and Gayle Phillips.

“The property is beautiful. The ride is wonderful,” said Connie Mulholland, the Suffolk woman who has organized the event for the past six years.

Those who wish to ride must pay $30, which includes lunch and a lapel pin. A $35 entry fee will get a rider a T-shirt, as well.

“Or (riders) can raise funds and get sponsors,” Mulholland said. “If everybody would raise a little for St. Jude’s, it would add up so quickly.”

Riders who donate $75 get a St. Jude hat and those who collect $50 get a saddle bag. This year, anyone who raises a least $500 will have a chance to win an Abetta saddle package.

“If we just had 10 or 15 people try to win the saddle, it would be great. We also are going to have many more prizes that local merchants are giving us. For every $100 they give, they will get an extra ticket for a prize they would like to win.

Mulholland said there have been about 250 riders in the past, but that organizers this year are hoping for 350 from all over.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds go to St. Jude Hospital,” said Lauren Harper, who is helping organize the event this year. “People drive hours and hours to go on these trail rides. It’s amazing.”

Though St. Jude is several states away, many local children have benefited from its services, Mulholland said.

“There’s a girl in my Sunday School class who had a defective heart,” she said. “St. Jude built her a heart valve that allowed her heart to function properly and she’s alive today because of that.”

Gates open 8:30 a.m. and the ride starts at 10 at Raccoon Creek Sports, which is located at 18445 Raccoon Creek Drive.

For more information, call Mulholland at 925-4232.