June 24, 2010 -- Purina Mills, LLC, has announced the four semi-finalists in the Purina Live from Lexington Contest, an opportunity for horse lovers to showcase their reporting skills for a chance to attend and blog live from the Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. this fall. The four semi-finalists are Nina Akerley of Brighton, Mass., Erin Gallagher of Pullman, Wash., Sheri Israel of South Euclid, Ohio, and Kristine Oakhurst of Providence, R.I.
More than 200 equine enthusiasts entered the Live from Lexington online contest and submitted essays and videos explaining why they would love to be a Purina Live from Lexington Correspondent.
"I was absolutely blown away by our four semi-finalists," said Brant Gilbert, marketing manager, Horse Business Group. "Now it's up to them to be relevant and entertaining so that they can captivate an audience and show off their correspondent skills."
Each of the semi-finalists will receive a Purina-branded Flip MinoT video camera, a one-year subscription to the Equine Network publication of their choice and blog space online at www.LiveFromLexington.com. The semi-finalists will report through July 12 from their blog space at www.LiveFromLexington.com on the horse industry and happenings in their area and around the world. During the four-week period, fans will have the opportunity to vote once a day for their favorite blogger. Fans can cast their vote online at www.LiveFromLexington.com.
"I think the voters and fans will get a feel for the type of content that each contestant will bring to their audience once they get to the games," said Gilbert.
As an added incentive, for every five votes that each semi-finalist receives, Purina will donate $1 to NARHA, an organization that provides equine assisted activity and therapy programs in the U.S. and Canada. Each year, NARHA assists more than 42,000 individuals with special needs through activities including therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, equine facilitated psychotherapy and learning, driving, interactive vaulting and competition. To learn more, visit www.narha.org.
"Purina is proud to donate to a wonderful organization such as NARHA," added Gilbert. "Voters should feel good about helping out the organization simply by voting for their favorite blogger."
Two grand-prize winners, one for each half of the 16-day Games, will be selected from the four semi-finalists as Purina's Live from Lexington correspondents and will receive airfare to Lexington, Ky., and hotel accommodations courtesy of Active Travel. The two grand-prize winners also will receive funds to purchase tickets for nine days of competitive events, a laptop computer, $1,000 prepaid VISA? debit card, Purina? branded clothing and gear, one ton of Purina? horse feed, and blog space on www.LiveFromLexington.com to report live from the Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Purina Live from Lexington Semi-Finalists:
Click on the links below to view semi-finalist blogs and winning entries:
Nina Akerley (Brighton, Mass.)
A long-time equine lover, Akerley began riding horses in first grade. She has been a captain of the Mount Holyoke College Dressage Team and is now actively involved in local equine rescue programs. Akerley also writes an equine blog. Over the years, her interest in horses has developed into what she now describes as her life and passion. "Both writing and my passion for horses is very personal to me and very close to my heart. I've spent my lifetime being passionate about horses," said Akerley.
Erin Gallagher (Pullman, Wash.)
Currently residing on a horse farm in Pullman, Wash., semi-finalist Erin Gallagher feels she's in just the right place. "Having the horses on my property means a lot to me. I would much rather drive to my job than have to drive to be near my horse," said Gallagher, whose family has owned and operated the horse farm for years. Her family's work played a large role in her life-long involvement with horses. Gallagher became involved in the local pony club at age seven. Today she, along with her nine-year-old horse, competes in dressage and is involved in the local pony club.
Sheri Israel (South Euclid, Ohio)
Riding and showing experience gives Sheri Israel both knowledge and passion for equestrian competition. Israel has been riding since age 12, has shown Arabian horses and for the past 14 years has been focused on dressage training. She also chronicles her horse experiences through a blog. She looks forward to the opportunity to providing an "every-man" perspective to the coverage of the Games. "The whole thing is very inspiring personally," said Israel. "I think this will make me a better rider and a better horse person."
Kristine Oakhurst (Providence, R.I.)
Semi-finalist Kristine Oakhurst has been riding horses since before she could walk. At age six, she began competing and before she was 18 was participating in Grand Prix jumping. She has also competed in dressage. Oakhurst has taken her passion for the horse world to the web through a website she created featuring equestrian articles and information and through a blog which she began to chronicle her everyday riding. "This is in my blood. All I could ever think about was horses," said Oakhurst. "I think I can give audiences something new through my style and personality."