Virginia- Ride for the Cure Interview

Learn about Ride for the Cure- a Virginia horse ride to raise money for breast cancer research

by Darley Newman

On October 10, 2009, I will be horseback riding alongside equestrians, mothers, daughters, fathers and friends for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Ride for the Cure Virginia. One of only five such rides in the United States, the ride benefits the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Many of you have heard of or participated in similar walks and runs across the United States and in other parts of the world. Being able to participate in an event like this on horseback makes it all the more exciting and special.

Maureen Hanley, who as Director of Operations for Fox Chase Farm is co-chair of the event, filled me in on this unique equestrian experience.

Darley: How did the Ride for the Cure Virginia develop? How did you come to be involved?

Maureen: I have been very blessed at Fox Chase Farm and in my life in general. I thought it was about time that I stand up and do something to give back. I always wanted to do something where horses could help. I know that when I’ve had difficult times, my horses have been a comfort to me… a sort of escape from reality. They are very therapeutic for many people with many kinds of illnesses. As someone said once, ‘the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man’.

Ann DeMichele, a woman in my barn, brought it to my attention… ‘Lets do some sort of ‘ride’ for charity’, she said.

After much thought, I realized that a lot of my friends and neighbors have been stricken with breast cancer. So, we thought about doing a Ride for the fight against breast cancer.

In the early stages, we thought about doing something just ourselves, a grass roots effort. Then I thought that we would benefit more people if we could couple with a major foundation… like the Susan G. Komen Foundation. We reached out to them and they welcomed us with open arms. We became one of FIVE Ride For the Cure events in the United States.

We sent out a little blurb to the community about our idea and got the attention of Dr. Tena Boyd and Old Waterloo Equine Clinic. She and a few of her friends were already in the planning stages of something very similar. We decided to join forces and Tena and I are now co-Chairs for Ride For The Cure Virginia!

Darley: Please take me through the plans for this exciting day.

Maureen: We are so very excited that the day is fast approaching! We have been planning this for almost 2 years. The gates will open at 11am and horses, trailers and people will be getting ready for the trail ride. We wanted to honor some of the survivors of breast cancer, so at 1pm, we will have a walk on foot and horseback.

2pm is the kick-off of the trail rides! The more advanced group will go first, leaving Fox Chase Farm and traveling to Sunnybank Farm, which is over 1,000 acres. 

Approximately, ten minutes after that, the intermediate riders will leave and then ten minutes after that, the walk-only group will ride off."

After the ride back at Fox Chase Farm, there will be a decorated tent, Cocktails and at 4pm, the Silent Auction. Dinner starts at 5pm. Radio personality Frank Murphy will be the MC along with ABC7News reporter Greta Kruez. There will be a band and a riding demonstration as well.

Darley: Whom do you expect to attend this year's ride?

Maureen: Many different types of horse people have signed up for our event. This area is home to horse racing, steeplechase racing, polo, jumpers, hunters, show horses, foxhunters and western riders. I know that riders from each of these disciplines will be represented the day of our “Ride”.

Darley: Who's a typical rider?

Maureen: There are all types of riders, from beginners to advanced, from children to seniors, men and women. We are very excited about all of the different riders and from all over Virginia, DC and Maryland. Many will travel a good distance to get to us.

Darley: What can riders expect during the event?

Maureen: Lots of fun on the trail! Great ‘thank you’ prizes for participants from our wonderful sponsors! Dinner provided by Wegmans and we’ll have fun entertainment. We know also that this will be an emotional day for many.

We are providing ribbons for people to wear as they ride… the name of the person they are riding for will be printed on the ribbons.

Darley: Do non-riders participate?

Maureen: YES, we have formed a ‘Ghost Rider’ registration. This is for the person whose horse is lame, or can’t do trail rides, or is a show horse and isn’t available on that day or for the person who would love to be able to ride, but they just don’t have a horse. These ‘Ghost Riders’ can sign up as a ride participant, fundraise and have a great time the day of the ride, enjoying dinner and festivities. We also are selling dinner tickets for $50 to those who would rather come and eat.

Darley: Why is Middleburg / Virginia Hunt Country a good place to host this event? Why Fox Chase Farm?

Maureen: We want to attract as many people as we can to our event. First, being so close to the DC area, we are reaching out to the general public as well as riders. 

This event is for people who would like to take a trip to the country and enjoy a great day and help with the fight against breast cancer. Middleburg, VA is one of the most famous horse areas in the state. Many Olympic ridres and sponsors live in this area. 

Fox Chase Farm is really a landmark in this very popular horse community, where the most famous residents are the horses. We have about 20,000 cars that pass our entrance daily and really wanted a place to attract the most attention and to raise the most awareness and dollars for our event.

Darley: What's the goal for this year's event?

Maureen: To raise as much money as we can and bring attention to our very first year of Ride For The Cure Virginia to end the fight against breast cancer!

Darley Newman is the host of the Emmy Award-winning Public Television series Equitrekking®, which takes viewers on horseback riding vacations around the world. Equitrekking is broadcast on PBS stations and on international networks in over 30 countries.

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