Last Saturday night, close to 400 people gathered to celebrate Riding to the Top, a local therapeutic riding center that helps people with disabilities reach their highest potential through the healing power of horses.
The Triple b stands for boots, band and BBQ and it lived up to its name. People from all over the area turned out in their western wear, hats and boots included, to eat BBQ from DennyMike’s and dance to live music featuring Under the Covers. In between the dinner and dancing, slide shows featuring the participants in the program and the horses were shown and a mission based auction was held.
A mission based auction is a different kind of fundraiser where everyone wins for exactly what they want to win for. The biggest winner this night was the riders and the horses. People gave generously starting at $5,000 and incrementally dropping the amount until $50 and lower.
For the riders, who could be anyone between the ages of three and 83, the attendees raised close to $36,000 and for the 16 horses the total was close to $37,000. The average cost to take care of the horses, just for well care, is $75,000 for one year.
A signed, authenticated Tom Brady Patriots jersey was auctioned off in the traditional auction manner and raised $2,100.
Auctioneer Elizabeth Holmstrom has been holding auctions for Riding to the Top for 15 years. “It’s my absolute favorite event because of the lives they touch and the lives the horses touch,” she told the audience. Her energy, passion for what she was doing was obvious from the creative songs she sang and the jacket she created covered with lights so people could see her better.
RTT parent Bo Bigelow spoke about his young daughter and the therapy she has received at the farm. “With a child with special needs, there are so many curveballs and because of those never ending curveballs the constants are the parts of life that are not curveballs and we build around those fixed points. RTT is one of those constants.”
When Tess started at RTT, she could not walk, was non-verbal and each day her father carried her out of the ring. “Gradually something clicked,” he said. Now, a year and a half later, the 5-year-old is walking independently.
“What are the right words to say to the people who have taught your child to walk?” Bigelow asked. “Thank you for being a constant and a star to navigate by. For seeing my daughter as a whole person, seeing that she has a will and a talent you can tap into.”
For this one story, there were more families in the audience with their own story, ready to share with anyone who asked.
There was a boot contest and raffles featuring a Thos. Moser rocker, trips to Sugarloaf, Migis Lodge and more.
The evening raised close to $115,000.
“The Triple B is our largest fundraising event of the year. We receive no federal or state funds - our events, volunteers and donors keep our doors open and riders in the saddle. I am humbled by the generous support of our sponsors, donors and volunteers who gave so generously of their time, talent and treasure to make this year’s Triple B the best ever!” said executive director Sarah Bronson.
Donations can be made year round at www.ridingtothetop.org/support.