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Saddling up for ‘Freedom’


Last year I got sunburned. This year, it was frostbite--or at least close to it.

On the bright side, though, the cold, windy weather kept the bugs away for the third-annual “Freedom Ride,” which saw 13 riders collect $4,700 for the Northern Therapeutic Riding Association (NorTRA) on Saturday morning at Trail’s End Riding Stables.

Alexis Anderson pulled in the most pledges ($1,500) to earn a saddle. Derek McLean won the bridle with close to $900 in pledges while Jessica Munn was the third-highest with $400, winning brass horses.

“I think everyone enjoyed themselves even though the weather was a little on the cool side,” noted Amy Spicer, a second-year volunteer with NorTRA.

Spicer and her husband, Brian, rode in their first “Freedom Ride,” raising some $400 between the two of them.

“Our marriage withstood the ride,” she laughed.

New this year was a motorcycle poker derby, which ran from Fort Frances to Nestor Falls. Some 13 bikers raised another $300 for NorTRA in the seven-hour trek.

“It went very well,” enthused Paul Bradley, who organized the poker derby because of his past involvement with NorTRA. “I’d like to tie this one in [annually] because everyone enjoyed themselves.”

With the bikers, total funds raised topped $5,000. Joyce Young, who runs NorTRA out of her stables, felt the individual effort to raise dollars this year surpassed the two previous years.

This year, she noted they haven’t approached service clubs or corporate sponsors yet--and they’ve already surpassed their goal of $3,000.

The money will go towards hay and feed for the 10 horses used in the therapeutic riding program, which each run up about a $350 food bill annually.

Proceeds also will help subsidize about 20 therapeutic riders for their sessions, which range from one to three times a week.

“It was very, very good,” Young said Monday, noting they took the ride to the trail this year rather than sticking to the roads. “Most of the people liked the trail better.”

“It was really nice to see kids getting involved in the ride,” agreed Spicer. “Though they can’t volunteer with NorTRA, this is a way that they can contribute.

“And they did an awfully good job with the fundraising.”

Meanwhile, Young is still inviting anyone aged 14 or older interested in volunteering with the program to come out and lend a hand.

“For Wednesday nights, we’re okay,” she said. “But I could use some extras.”

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