Christian and Ember at the 2017 Ride-a-Thon. (submitted)

Christian and Ember at the 2017 Ride-a-Thon. (submitted)

Ride-a-Thon raises $16,500 for special needs

Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association blew their fundraising goal out of the water

In June, the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association blew their fundraising goal for their annual Ride-a-Thon out of the water, earning $16,500.

The event raises money for the CTRA’s equestrian program for persons with special needs. The Ride-a-Thon generates much-needed revenue to support CTRA’s services, which include therapeutic riding, therapeutic horsemanship, adapted equestrian vaulting, para-equestrian sport, and stable management vocational development.

“CTRA relies on the support of our community to make our work possible,” said Jennifer Barnes van Elk, development officer for the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association. “It is a testament to the generosity of the Cowichan Valley that we were able to meet and exceed our fundraising goal this year. It is truly inspiring to see what can be accomplished when people come together to support a common cause.”

Although CTRA’s program welcomes participants of all ages, the vast majority of users are children. CTRA receives no federal or provincial funding (outside of an annual Community Gaming Grant) and relies on the support of fundraising initiatives like the Ride-a-Thon to cover operational expenses and keep their services accessible for the individuals and families that depend on these therapeutic interventions.

In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, CTRA had originally hoped to raise $15,000 with this year’s Ride-a-Thon. The $15,000 reflected a goal of a $100 contribution toward 150 participants — coincidentally the average number of unique users accessing CTRA’s program each year.

Thanks to the support of individuals, families, businesses, and organizations in the Cowichan Valley, CTRA exceeded their goal.

CTRA plans on using the funds raised by this year’s Ride-a-Thon to help cover the costs of feeding and caring for the association’s therapy horse herd.

“These are remarkable service animals that give 100 per cent every day,” said CTRA executive director Anne Muir. “In order to keep this herd healthy and happy, we need to raise a significant amount of money each year to cover the costs of hay, feed, horseshoes, and veterinary care required by over a dozen horses.”

The Ride-a-Thon generates money through event sponsorships and pledges raised by participants, families, staff, and volunteers. This year, each therapy horse was backed by a team of fundraisers that collected pledges from family members, friends, neighbours, and co-workers. As the money was brought in by each team, their respective horses “raced” around a steeplechase scoreboard.

This year’s winning horse was Tonka with a purse of $2,786 raised in support of the program.

The top five individual fundraisers were participants Lisa Larsen (collecting $1,135), Traynor Cline ($862), Ayla Worrall ($790), Taryn Dandurand ($750), and Oliver Findlayson ($710). All of this year’s participants received prizes for their efforts, and Ride-a-Thon week wrapped up with a sunny celebration picnic on June 24.

“CTRA would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone that supported our 2017 Ride-a-Thon — whether through sponsorship, pledging an individual or team, raising pledges, or donating time as a volunteer,” said Barnes van Elk. “It is because of our community’s unwavering support that we are able to open our doors each day. We cannot express our gratitude enough for this wonderful opportunity to serve our Valley and help change lives for the better.”

For more information on the 2017 Ride-a-Thon or the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association, visit www.ctra.ca or contact info@ctra.ca or 250-746-1028.