“I really want the world to know that our students perform community service and are anxious to help good causes,” said Naomi Blumenthal, of Manlius, New York, who sits on the six-member national board of directors for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA).
Since 2008, IHSA has contributed a portion of every entry fee from hunter seat Novice Flat and Novice Western classes, at every regular-season show throughout the year, to Ride For The Ribbon, to support breast cancer awareness.
The students she is referring to are among the more than 8,600 intercollegiate riders, representing over 375 colleges and universities in America and Canada, who help make Ride For The Ribbon possible.
“This year, we will contribute about $3,000,” said Blumenthal, who is also IHSA treasurer. The donation comes from entry fees students pay to participate in the shows. “Horse people, and horse shows, like to contribute to worthwhile causes, so when I learned about this, I jumped in.”
Ride for the Ribbon, the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, was launched in 1998, shortly after Stefanie Spielman, wife of former Ohio State University football star and NFL Detroit Lions linebacker, Chris Spielman, discovered a lump in her breast during a self-exam. Spielman, who survived two bouts with breast cancer before losing her battle in November 2009, believed education is the best weapon against this disease and research is the key to eliminating it. The Spielmans pledged to raise $1 million for breast cancer research at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State University.
Sharon van der Walde, of Ride For The Ribbon, says that -- as of this year -- the Spielman’s goal has been amply surpassed: the cause has raised $6 million.
“Ride for the Ribbon came about because of the friendship Stefanie and I shared, and the fact that our daughters rode,” said van der Walde. “When Naomi contacted me about helping, I had no idea the impact she would have! Naomi is so caring and I am overwhelmed that IHSA riders care enough to participate in Ride for the Ribbon classes. They display a compassion that we appreciate so much.”
“I do feel better, knowing it goes to a great cause,” says IHSA rider, Sara Saltzman, who rode for North Central Texas College in Gainesville until 2009 and is now finishing her degree at Texas A & M.
Maggie Stormont, who rode for Miami University (1991-1995), agrees that charity is as important a lesson as competition. “There are not many opportunities for our riding to help someone else. It would be great if every class, at every show, could donate to charity.”
“When donating to The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer, one hundred percent of the funds donated go to research,” van der Walde said. “Together, we can find a cure.”
Blumenthal is correct about generosity among horse people: Ride For The Ribbon classes are also offered at Classic Horse Shows by the Bay, the Maryland Horse and Pony Show, and Lehman Farms Horse Shows.
“I think riders tend to be competitive and put one hundred percent into worthwhile causes,” said C.J. Law, head coach for the Mount Holyoke College hunter seat IHSA team, and 2010 Cacchione Cup champion, Lindsay Sceats.
“My riding team raised close to five thousand dollars this year for Relay for Life. I am sure a lot of IHSA teams – and individuals, like Naomi -- take on causes where they can help. It only takes one person to get it started, and a person that believes.”
For more information on Ride For The Ribbon, visit www.ridefortheribbon.net, or call (614) 563-6301, and remember, every IHSA Novice class during the school year really can make a difference. See www.IHSAinc.com for more information about competition schedules around the country, or starting your own collegiate team, and follow Intercollegiate Horse Show Association on its official Facebook page, and on Twitter, @IHSAinc.