By Nikki Jamieson
After a record-breaking first year, Taber will be hosting its second Alberta Wish Ride on Aug 5-6.
The ride is one of two in Alberta this year that act as horseback fundraisers for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.
“Some of these kids go through a lot. Surgeries, some of them are terminal, some kids pull through what they’re doing,” said Irene White, co-founder of the Alberta Wish Ride. “By granting wishes to these kids, it kind of helps them get through these trying times and put a smile on their face, even if it helps for a few days, we want to help however we can.”
The first day will serve as a get-together social at the Taber Pro Rodeo Grounds (NE 1/4 1-10-17 W4), off Highway 864. Participants are invited to camp at the grounds so they are first in line for the trail rides the next day. Riders will receive a pancake breakfast before hitting the trail at the Barnwell lease, riding down to the Oldman River and coulees, where they will split into two groups, one taking a beginner trail and the other doing a more advance trail, with the rides taking about three hours to complete. A hotdog lunch will be provided to riders. Once they return from the ride,there will be live entertainment, auction, a BBQ roast beef supper and a raffle.
Participants are asked to raise at least $200 for the event. However, as an extra incentive to raise more money for the foundation, every $25 you raise will equal a ticket in a draw to win a brand new saddle.
Others can even sponsor a rider as well, which further increases that rider’s chances of winning.
Last year, with a record of 109 riders, 25 business donations and 30 volunteers, a whopping $64,000 was raised from the Taber ride alone. Combined with the ride in Cypress Hills and other business donations, over $89,000 was raised for the Children’s Wish Foundation.
“Everything we do is for the kids. To grant a wish for children,” said Christine West, Taber ride co-ordinator.
Established in 1984, The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling a favourite wish for children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.
Since its inception, Children’s Wish has granted nearly 25,000 wishes for children and their families and fulfills approximately 1,000 wishes annually across Canada, each being an individual adventure, carefully structured to meet the needs of that particular child.
White and Roger Matas had started the Alberta Wish Ride eight years ago, with rides taking place all over the province.
They had participated the rides in Manitoba and B.C., before deciding to start doing the rides in Alberta.
“This is horse country,” said White, whose father held the rides in B.C., but had sadly passed away before the Alberta rides started. “Whoever wants to organize a ride with us, we will help them with it and co-ordinate everything.”
While in the past, there has been a trend of the saddle winner putting on a ride, anyone can host a ride. But they do ask that you get as much as possible donated, and, if you absolutely have to spend money, please keep it under $200.
“That way everything raised goes towards Children’s Wish. Everything is donated, the costs are minimal,” said White, adding that the foundation has one of the lowest administration costs for fundraisers in Canada. “If someone wants to put a ride on for us, that’s our number one thing; that you do everything for nothing, you get it donated.”
The ride will go in any type of weather, so dress accordingly, and all participants must preregister for the ride online. While about ten have signed up so far, organizers are expecting to see around 100 participants for the event. To register for the Taber ride, visit http://www.albertawishride.ca.