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St. Jude’s ride benefits sick children

Sarah and Charlie Whitt spend the morning preparing their horse, Journey, for the annual Saddle Up for St. Jude ride Saturday at Paddle Creek Horse Camp at Lake Vesuvius.

AID TOWNSHIP — The smell of burning campfires and hay permeated the air at the Wayne National Forest Paddle Creek Trails Saturday morning.

And even at the relatively early hour of 9 a.m., there was an air of anticipation: people who loved horses and loved children were going to pair their passions for the 10th annual Saddle Up For St. Jude benefit bide.

The annual event, organized by the Lawrence County Chapter of the Ohio Horseman’s Council, raises money for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Since the local event began, that group has raised a total of $34,000.

“This is such a wonderful organization and they do such wonderful work with children,” chapter treasurer Kay Shannon said of St. Jude. The goal this year was $7,000. The group raised $6,700 last year.

Local event coordinator Charlie Whitt and his wife, Sarah, have been to St. Jude’s and are impressed with not only care the kids get as patients but the comfort the family receives while the sick child is getting well.

“You see these little kids and you’re heart just bleeds for them,” Sarah Whitt said. “This hospital is a miracle.”

Charlie Whitt pointed out when the hospital opened in 1962, the survival rate for a child with the most common form of leukemia was only 4 percent. Now, thanks to research at St. Jude and other facilities, the survival rate is 94 percent.

And while the commitment to St. Jude is strong, the riders will tell you it is also fun getting outside on a cool fall morning to be with people who understand your other passion.

“This is a way to enjoy nature and horses, too,” Charlie Whitt said.

After the ride, there was a potluck dinner and an auction.

Those who would like to donate to St. Jude through the local OHC may do so by calling the Whitts at (740) 256-1177 or by email at tinbender24@gmail.com.