Two summers ago, Fairway Farm Show Facility owner and home care provider Julie Young was called to care for a new patient. Young didn’t initially recognize her former classmate. A breast cancer survivor, this brave woman bore hardly any resemblance to her former self. She had survived the breast cancer, but the diagnosis and treatment wreaked havoc on her body, leaving her with numerous other health issues. Eventually, this woman’s body lost its battle, leaving Young with an overwhelming need to do something.
In 2012, she decided to hold a horse show with one goal: The proceeds would be given directly to a local person fighting breast cancer. Research foundations are essential — a necessity, but Young wanted to help people directly. The horse show was to be a simple and fun event held at the end of the summer. As we spread the word, the horse show took on a life of its own. We began finding sponsors for our show classes, raffles came pouring in, and before we knew it, we found ourselves in a bit over our heads. As we carried raffle baskets out to the big white tents that morning, this writer noticed the stream of horse trailers lined up down the road as far as the eye could see. Ill prepared, we just weren’t ready for the number of amazing people that would show up that afternoon. They were all fantastic. Patient, friendly, jovial, caring, and dressed from head to toe in pink! It was amazing.
This year we were ready. We began planning our event early in the spring and once again the benevolence came at us from every direction. Better prepared, this past September 1, we held our second annual Strides For Breast Cancer Horse Show Event at Fairway Farms in Westmoreland, New York. A small, rural community, our friends and neighbors got involved and helped us put together a tremendous event. Everything that was donated for class prizes or raffles were donated by local businesses and families. We sought no big companies for denotations. We went to our local friends and neighbors and asked them to help, and, of course, they answered the call. Many donations were made on behalf of someone dear to them who had undergone the breast cancer diagnosis.
The event is a fun, bright day full of laughter and pink love, but its cause is never far from anyone’s heart. This year we were fortunate enough to have several survivors join us. Some still in the recovery stage, while another is currently battling yet another heart breaking diagnosis. As each of them visited with us, the same overwhelming message kept coming through — it was a sea of pink! They came to us full of disbelief in the way horses and riders were decked out in pink rather than the normal horse show attire. Horses painted with Love, Hope and pink ribbons; riders in big pink tutus!
During the event, we accepted nominations for people currently battling breast cancer. We received several beautifully written, heartfelt letters, all for the same three amazing ladies. These women were not nominated by one person, but by several people. That alone speaks volumes. The plan was to review the nominations and ask a breast cancer survivor to draw a name out of a hat. After counting the money we raised, and reading the letters, the committee decided instead to split the money between the three women. Three amazing woman. Our neighbors. Our sisters. Our friends. Whether they use the money to help with medical bills or to take in a movie to escape their situation for just a short time, our hope is that it makes a difference in their lives.
We at Fairway Farm host the horse show event, but none of it would be possible without our amazing equestrian community or our generous local friends and neighbors. We are already planning next year’s event. This has become an annual good time that our community is becoming accustomed to expecting. People have already began making donations, asking to help, and planning how they will decorate themselves and their horses for next year!