Endurance Riding

Apr 22 2013

We’re Riding For A Cause!

Published by under Endurance Riding

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Several weeks ago, as I had thoughts of the Tevis Cup ride racing through my head as I tried to sleep, I thought of my friend Bren. She is a fellow equestrian and we also share the same occupation of Registered Nurse. Bren and I have shared many stories in the saddle and I have always known it was on Bren’s bucket list to ride the Tevis trail, if not enter the Tevis Cup ride. When I told her I was going to attempt my first Tevis ride in 2013, she asked if she could serve on my crew. I was thrilled that I was going to have not only a close friend, but such a knowledgeable horse woman on my side come July 20th, 2013. It was when Bren told me last year, right before the holidays, that she had breast cancer, when I realized she may not be able to crew for me.

A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to dedicate my ride to Bren — that way, she could be a part of it whether or not she was able to crew. But when I told Bren that I wanted to use the ride as an opportunity to raise money for her, to help her with her medical expenses, she politely declined. She asked that I, instead, ride for a charity of her choice. Knowing Bren and her big heart, this did not surprise me. She never wants to take anything for herself; she is always giving to others. This is what Bren had to say:

“Living with cancer has brought surprise blessings. I don’t say that too often because people give me the strangest looks, but it’s true. Last October, my doctor gave me the results of my bone biopsy: stage IV metastatic breast cancer. For those first few days post diagnosis, my outlook wasn’t so positive. As a nurse, I have seen so many patients lose the battle against cancer, and being an ICU nurse, I see those patients who want to fight it; they choose to grapple and claw with their disease for every minute they are alive. It was those patients I first thought of, and for a few days, I’ll admit, I felt like it was curtains down on the rest of my life. I imagined never seeing my husband become a father, never riding the Tevis with my beautiful mare, Jezebel, or traveling with my cousin Kim on one of her mission trips to Kenya to see the beautiful faces of the girls she saves.

I remember the despair I felt when that curtain came crashing down, but I can’t recall exactly when the curtain began to pull aside and show me a world I had never fully appreciated before. I don’t know if my chemo is going to cure me, and yes, there have been days when I thought it was killing me, but I am grateful for being reminded that every day is a gift for all of us and an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

A few weeks ago, Jaya asked if she could dedicate her Tevis ride to me and I could choose the charity her ride would raise money for. My first thought was the mission in Kenya I have always wanted to help with; it is organized by Global Village Ministries in their endeavor to help young Maasai girls escape genital mutilation. They house and educate these girls, some of them as young as 5 years old, who would be otherwise exchanged for cattle as wives to adult men.

Thank you for helping such a worthy cause.”

When Bren first approached me with her choice of charities, I was immediately on board. Bren did not know that back in my first years of college, I had performed in Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues at Chico State University. (The Vagina Monologues is a moving performance, which through a series of soliloquies, describes the many varied aspects of womanhood. Ticket sales from the shows go to various charities that work tirelessly to end violence against women, all over the globe.) Bren also did not know that it was ironic she chose a girls’ home in the sovereign state of East Africa known as Kenya. I one day hope to visit Kenya, as it is the birthplace of my father, a place I have been drawn to through my father’s vivid childhood memories.

Through an email with Bren’s cousin, Kim DeWitt, who has partnered with Global Village Ministries, I learned that Kim is trying to raise money to finish the building of the girls’ home in Kenya: “The home we are building is called THE OLMALAIKA HOME, which means Angel in KiMaasai. It will be able to fit 42 young girls, ages 5 – 14. The girls coming into the home are at high risk of female genital mutilation, early childhood marriage and/or orphans. We are always looking for sponsors for the girls, and that money covers their education, medical care, food, and care at the home.” (To find out more, read Kim’s blog at http://globalvillageministries.blogspot.com/.)

So, because of my friend, Bren, I have re-dedicated my ride and named it The Olmalaika Project: Riding for Maasai (because girls are beautiful just the way God made them!)

Please consider sponsoring Asali and me as we cover 100 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains this summer — as we ride for our cause! Donations can be made by clicking the donate button on the right-hand side of our home page. 100% of the money received will go directly to The Olmalaika Home in Kenya. My goal is to raise $500 for the home. In addition, through my own nonprofit organization, Spirit Quilts, I have agreed to make 1 quilt for every $100 we raise. The quilts will be given to the girls living in The Olmalaika Home. THANK YOU!



7 responses so far

7 Responses to “We’re Riding For A Cause!”

  1. JayaMaeon 23 Apr 2013 at 5:30 am

    Only 4 hours after I posted this blog, in only two donations, we surpassed my original goal of $500. I am left amazed by the generosity of our donors! Let’s keep this going… I’ve got more than 2 months until Tevis. I want to see just how much we can give… since I agreed to make 1 quilt for every $100 raised, it looks already like I may be doing a lot of sewing after the Tevis ride! I love it!

    Kim gave me a breakdown of the home’s financial needs:

    Blankets (2 per bed) $30 each
    Mosquito Nets
    Mattresses $80 each
    Solar Lamps
    2 sofas
    Tables $200 per table (need 3)
    Bookcases $100 each (need 10)
    Bunk Beds: $250 each
    Drinking Water Purification

    Landscaping: $12,000
    Fruit Trees/Flowers/Grass/ Electric Fencing/Gate/Water Pump

    Solar Panels $2000

    Sponsorship for the watchmen: $100 per month per watchman

    Sponsorship for the assistant matron: $100 per month

    Bren and I both matched the first donation that came in — we gave $101 each. We’re up to $803 now!!!

  2. Brenon 24 Apr 2013 at 6:09 am

    It’s exciting how many people are becoming a part of this-$5 and $10 donations are adding up! I find myself imagining what the girls at the home are doing and wondering what they must feel like. Are they sad and homesick to have had to escape their homes or do they go to bed at night feeling safe and happy? Thanks to everyone who has helped out!

  3. Ann Byrnson 24 Apr 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Congratulations to you, Jaya, and to Bren, for choosing to support these girls in Kenya. I cannot think of a more worthy cause. I am so proud of you, daughter, and as you know, I think the world of Bren, too! I hope she gets a chance to ride her favorite mare in an endurance ride before this year is done.

    Jaya, you can look forward to another sewing and quilting extravaganza with your mom later this summer. I now have a walking foot on my Janome machine to help with those difficult bindings!

  4. Norbert Schweron 03 May 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Dear JayaMae and Bren,
    Thank you so very much for your love and compassion for these vulnerable young women and girls. May God bless you as you prepare for this special ‘ride’ and as you face your breast CA with its many challenges.
    Looking forward to meeting you both some day real soon!

  5. Diana Hiiesalu Bainon 15 May 2013 at 1:25 am

    Good job!!
    Diana Hiiesalu Bain recently posted..Is This A Man Thing???????????

  6. Barbara Whiteon 18 Jun 2013 at 10:54 am

    Wishing you a wonderful and inspiring ride. When you finally settle into the saddle on ride morning, your anxiety will evaporate and you will concentrate on the job at hand and this good cause. Ride, really ride and get ‘er done!

  7. Sonia Ahluwaliaon 09 Jul 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Keep up the good work! Good luck at Tevis. Love, Uncle, Aunty, Sonia and Ami.

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