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The 2012 American Express Ride for The Red Cross

Olympic riders will participate in the 2012 American Express Ride for The Red Cross, a Wellington trail ride to benefit the American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund.

November 28, 2011—Olympic show jumping medalists headline an impressive list of riders on a Wellington trail ride benefiting the American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund.

The trail ride, where participants will bring their own horses, will take place on Monday, March 26, 2012, in Wellington, FL, through Grand Prix Village and neighboring equestrian estates. Sheila Burke Reynolds of Manlius, NY, Candice King of Wellington, FL and Charlie Jacobs of Boston, MA are chairing the Red Cross fundraiser that is honoring living show jumping legend and Show Jumping Hall of Famer Rodney Jenkins. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund.

A group of exceptional Olympic veterans has endorsed this event including Margie Engle, Ashley Holzer, Lauren Hough, Anne Kursinski, Beezie Madden, Rodrigo Pessoa, Will Simpson and McLain Ward. The Honorary Ride for the Red Cross Committee includes Marty Bauman, Missy Clark, Nick Ellis, Shawn Flarida, Joie Gatlin, Marley Goodman, John McConnell, Leah McDaniel, Rachel Phillips, Philip Richter, Marlene Sinclair and Chester Weber.

The idea for the ride began with Sheila Burke Reynolds who was moved to help the Red Cross after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused widespread flooding across Central New York, just east of the Burkes‘ family horse farm. Sheila witnessed Red Cross volunteers assisting 8,000 people left homeless in her community. In total, across 12 states, the Red Cross assisted nearly 30,000 people seeking refuge from Irene and Lee in approximately 500 shelters. This response effort alone cost approximately $20,000,000. Each year 500,000 volunteers and 35,000 employees of the American Red Cross respond to an average of 70,000 disasters throughout the United States.

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Sheila‘s family racehorses are trained by Rodney Jenkins and Sheila‘s friend, James Hastie of the American Red Cross, used to ride with Rodney in the late 1980s. Rodney, known by many as the ―Red Rider,‖ dominated the show ring in the 1960s, ‗70s and ‗80s and retired to train racehorses as the winningest rider in U.S. show jumping history.

Rodney won many of America‘s most prestigious grand prix on multiple occasions - including the American Gold Cup five times, the Presidents Cup three times and the Grand Prix at the National Horse Show three times. Rodney was a double medalist at the 1987 Pan American Games, represented his country on numerous Nations‘ Cup teams and placed high at the FEI World Cup Finals. He rode such talented horses as Idle Dice, Playback, Aerobic, Czar and The Natural.

One of the characteristics that makes Rodney so special is his modesty. Never one to take credit for all he accomplished, he is quoted as saying, ―My philosophy is people don‘t make the horse… the horse makes the people.

With that in mind, Sheila, Candice and Charlie thought it would be appropriate to offer the Wellington horse community a social event that welcomed the participation of their world-class horses. Participants are encouraged to wear red and prizes will be given to the best dressed. Prize donations so far include donations by nationally acclaimed hunter-jumper trainer Missy Clark of Waitsfield, VT, who has donated her beautiful guesthouse for one week; Sugarbush Ski Resort who has donated lift tickets for two; American Express who has donated a $1,000 gift card and the Hampton Classic Horse Show who has donated a VIP ticket package valued at $2,500. Ashley LaBarge of Fayetteville, NY has donated commemorative saddle pads for the first 30 riders to RSVP to James Hastie at (315)374-6021 or jhastie@syrarc.org.

Unlike many galas that offer attendees an expensive meal, entertainment, and gift bag that offset the tax-deductible portion of the ticket price, this benefit will donate 100 percent of the proceeds directly to American Red Cross National Disaster Relief. With that in mind, the group is requesting a $1,000 donation per horse and rider or $3,000 per show barn to participate; 5 riders from each barn will be invited. Gold ($5,000+), Silver ($2,500+) and Bronze ($1,000) sponsorships are also available and all sponsors will receive on-site recognition, preferred start location in the trail ride and recognition in post-event publicity. Tax-deductible donations may be made by American Express Card on or before March 23, 2011.

Further information is available by contacting James Hastie of the American Red Cross at (315)374-6021 or jhastie@syrarc.org.

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