Horseback riding enthusiasts from Ocala and around the United States officially begin their Ride for the Cure this week to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. The fundraising period begins Sept. 26 and concludes Oct. 10.
In Florida, riders from Citra, Dunnellon, New Port Richey, Ocala, The Villages and other communities will ride trails in their area with pledges from their sponsors who have agreed to make donations based on the distance that they complete.
Across the country, riders from North Carolina, Michigan, Maryland and Ohio will join the Florida riders at a distance, raising funds in their communities as part of the Florida-based effort.
Ride for the Cure 2020 is organized and sponsored by Sun Country Trail Blazers, an Ocala-based riding club that has promoted trail riding since 1987. This year marks the seventh year that the club has raised money to fight Alzheimer’s disease, which is among the top 10 causes of death in the United States.
“While this is the seventh year we have held a Ride for the Cure event, it is the first time that the event has been socially distanced,” said Karen Kraushaar, president of Sun Country Trail Blazers. “Like the Alzheimer’s Association itself, which is conducting its annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s on a socially distanced basis this year due to the pandemic, we are socially distancing our event in order to keep our riders safe,” she added.
Sun Country Trail Blazers held its first Ride for the Cure in 2014. Ed Hancock, an SCTB member, Ocala resident and former board member of the Central and North Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, noted that Florida has the third highest population of people living with Alzheimer’s, at over half a million.
“Another person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds,” said Hancock, the leading force behind the annual Marion County-based ride. “It as yet has no cure and no effective treatment. The need for funding is great,” he added.
Many riders this year are dedicating their rides to relatives who have passed away from the incurable disease. Kraushaar is riding in honor of her mother, who died from it in 2012.
Pam Allen, Broker at Horse Capital Homes & Farms Realty, noted that the ability to ride in a smaller group this year makes it more attractive to some riders who have not been in the saddle in a while. Allen plans to Ride for the Cure with coworkers on Oct. 3 at Orange Creek, weather permitting.
And some riders are adding creativity to their efforts, including one rider who competes in mounted archery who has requested that her sponsors donate based on the number of bullseyes she hits during her ride.
Many of the Ocala riders will meet at the New Santos trailhead on the Greenway at 10 a.m. on Sept 26 to don their official ride t-shirts and begin their journey for the cure.
A wrap-up celebration to express appreciation for all participants and sponsors will take place October 10 at the Shangri-La trailhead in Ocala.
Other riders interested in participating may download the form at the club’s website, www.suncountrytrailblazers.org.
The following companies and organizations are sponsoring this year’s Ride for the Cure
Home Instead Senior Care; Horse Capital Homes & Farms Realty; Newport Hay; Seminole Fence; The Yard Stop
Al & Sons Millwork Inc.; Belleview Heating & Air Inc.; Contractor’s Supply of Central Florida; Fred Nickel Tile Inc.; Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital; Seminole Feed; TT Distributors
MISSION, OTHER SPONSORS
Affordable Glass & Mirror; Big Sun Fence; Community Builders Inc.; Good Apple Equine; Kent’s Kar Stereo & Window Tint; Oswald Aluminum; United Hay; Walt’s Pawn & Jewelry Buyer