A number of local individuals and businesses have again pledged their assistance to help raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the “Saddle Up for St. Jude” Trail Ride, held the second Saturday in November in Como.
Each year, families, riding enthusiasts and people dedicated to helping children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases come out for a fun day on Jim and Jean Murray’s Two J Ranch, located just south of State Highway 11 at 993 County Road 2331, east of Como.
Each year, the event draws more participants, which in turn increases the amount that goes to St. Jude. In 2010, Saddle Up and Ride raised $5,000 from the Como event. That amount rose to $8,000 in 2011, and was about $13,000 last year. Event organizers are hoping this year to meet or increase that amount for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides complete and total medical care for more than 260 children daily, at the Nov. 9 event.
“No family ever pays St. Jude for anything. Ever. But the healing does not stop there. Over the years, our researchers have developed many successful treatments that are being used by hospitals and institutions worldwide to save the lives of children every where. This is all made possible because of the volunteers throughout this country who have joined St. Jude in the battle against childhood cancer and other deadly diseases,” Wilfred Busby, vice president of St. Jude national fundraising organization call centers, stated in a press release.
This year’s event will be extra special. Caroline Beard, a 13-year-old cancer survivor treated at St. Jude’s for retinoblastoma and a detached retina in one eye will be the featured guest. The youth and her family attend various events to let people know the impact their donations have for the children who receive care at St. Jude and offer personal thanks for their continued support of children in need of medical assistance through donations at fundraisers and sponsorship of events to raise funds.
While the Murrays host the event on their property, the Two J Ranch in Como, they rely on help from a lot of friends, local businesses and organizations in Hopkins County and surrounding communities donating supplies, labor and money to help cover expenses for the trail ride, lunch event and auction.
“Marilyn and James Baxter of White Oak Fish and Baxter Electric are the largest single donor to date,” said Murray. “We’ve even had a Sulphur Springs sorority make cookies for us. Jose and Tony Jacobs have donated a live steer for this year’s auction.”
Additional sponsors include Cathi and Jim Wright, Sandy Billodeau, J.R. “Junior” Gregg, Don Meeks, Mike Mund, T.W. Little, Daniel Walker, Gerald Wilburn and Annette Wilburn.
Among the first to pledge their support to the Nov. 9 Saddle Up for St. Jude Trail Ride were: J.R. Gregg Mule Barn & Trade Lot, Billy Cook Saddlery, Flippin Printing Co., Grocery Supply Co., Hopkins County VFW Post 8560 and Auxiliary, Coffee Creek Ranch, Twin Oaks Ranch, Mike and Rose Odell, David and Ida Herring, Latson Office Supply, Tractor Supply Co., Shane McCormick Roofing, Brothers Produce, Plain ‘N’ Fancy Sandwich Shoppe, City National Bank, Alliance Bank, Mardi Gras Seafood, James Awning of Tyler, Como Burger, Brian Toliver Ford, Chili’s restaurant, Dollar General Como, Rick Wilson, Chicken Express and local media, includ The Sulphur Springs News-Telegram.
“If anybody has items or funds they’d like to donate, they want to be a sponsor or help out in any way they can with Saddle Up for St. Jude, if they’ll just call, we’ll find a way to make it work,” Jim Murray said. “We still need about 20 briskets. We’ll have them, but if we could get them donated, that’s more that can go directly St. Jude.”
The gates will open at 7 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 for the hay trail rides. Horses and mules will saddle up (coggins required) and wagons load starting at 9:30 a.m. Riders and wagons will depart for the trail ride at 10 a.m. and return around noon in time for lunch. The wagons even include bathroom facilities! Mini-wagon rides, which are about 10-15 minutes long, will be offered for youngsters and others who can’t make the two-hour trail ride. Parents also must ride with their small children. Riders will saddle up to begin heading home at 2 p.m.
A minimum donation of $10 is requested for people to ride their own horse, and to make the trail ride. People who don’t want to make the ride can just come out, make their donation and enjoy lunch around 11 a.m. Nov. 9.
“We encourage riders to come and enjoy the trail,” noted Murray. “We’re hoping for nice cool fall weather. And, it’s for a great cause –?helping kids with cancer and research for a cure.”
The barbecue lunch will be served beginning at about 11 a.m. Lunch includes brisket, potato salad, coleslaw, beans and sausage. Chicken Express is donating tea. Rick Wilson, who often cooks at the Heritage Park festivals and cook–offs, will be providing Dutch oven desserts; he’s planning to cook and donate enough for 400 people.
Auction items include the live steer, a quilt box, walking canes and spurs.
As a safety precaution, those who smoke are asked to put their cigarettes in a can to prevent sparks from spreading and causing damage.
For more information about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, including stories about children who have been served at the hospital, go online to www.stjude.org.
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