Saddling Up for St. Jude
July 10, 2017
Written By Sara Brunsvold
Nearly two decades ago, David Reed and his wife, Brenda, received a phone call from a fellow horse lover. She asked if they would take over as coordinators for a charity trail ride benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Reeds’ “yes” took them down a trail they never expected.
The Reeds coordinating the charity ride made sense, said David, who manages the Howard Electric-MFA Propane plant in Fayette, Mo.
“We love kids,” he says. What’s more, their 80-acre farm, which is home to seven horses, is on the north end of the Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area near Higbee, Mo.
“We have 3,000 acres in our backyard,” David says. The conservation area boasts 12 miles of gravel trails perfectly suited for horses. The Missouri Department of Conversation has supported the ride from the beginning, he adds.
The first year was small, but the Reeds decided to do it again the next year. And the next. And the next.
Now they are planning their 18th annual Saddle Up for St. Jude Trail Ride on Saturday, Sept. 16.
“It’s pretty much an all-weekend event,” David says, describing how some riders come in a day or two before and camp on the Reed property through Sunday. They help set up the event and enjoy the Friday night fish fry for volunteers.
The riders leave at 10 a.m. on Saturday and spend the day enjoying the beauty and peace of the trails. When they return to the Reed property, they are greeted by live bluegrass music, fellowship, an auction and dinner.
Though riders do raise sponsorship to participate, the majority of the funds raised come from the auction, which draws a bigger crowd.
Last year, the Reeds hosted about 90 riders on the trails and about 250 people at the auction and dinner.
“The auction raises half of our money or better,” Brenda says. As such, the Reeds are always on the hunt for donated items. Popular sellers include anything horse-related, crafts, sports memorabilia and baked goods. The auction’s success is attributable to generous bidders. Last year, a pan of homemade rolls sold for $35.
“It’s not what the product is worth, it’s the kids,” David explains.
This year the Reeds hope to raise $35,000, a little above 2016’s total. Their goal is to crest $250,000 in their 20th year. Considering they have raised a combined $199,793 from previous rides, David is confident they will reach their goal.
The Reeds have toured St. Jude three times in the past and have seen the patients who benefit from the money.
The Memphis-based hospital does not turn away any seriously ill child due to the family’s inability to pay. Daily operating costs exceed $2.4 million, more than 75 percent of which comes from donations.
“We are trying to help the children that can’t help themselves,” David says.
As the Reeds look to the future of the charity ride, David is grateful younger generations are now involved in the planning and hopes one day they will carry on the Reeds’ legacy.
As for him and Brenda, he says, “We’ll never quit, but I’m sure we’ll slow down.”