More MS news articles for April 2000

Annual MS Trail Ride is fun, helps a good cause too

CRISTAL GOODMAN
Herald-Tribune staff

Vern Pilsworth hops on his horse each year in support of a disease he hopes will disappear into the sunset.

He took part in the annual MS Trail Ride last year, gathering the most pledges and winning the grand prize - a handcrafted saddle.

But he donated the cherished prize back to help raise even more money for MS.

"We want to help people out," he said.

Another winner from Calgary did the same thing, said trail ride organizer Sharon Nelson.

These kind folks have been a big help considering there's no prize sponsor yet, she added.

Last year, the MS Trail Ride at Simonette Valley Ranch raised over $83,000. "We hope to break that $100,000 mark (this year)," said Nelson. Half the money raised is sent away to fund research and half will stay in the Peace Country, she said.

This year's ride is June 10 on the banks of the Simonette River, about 20 kilometres south of DeBolt.

Kelly Sorer was diagnosed with MS 10 years ago and has been a rider these past six years.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that affects young adults. There's no known cure.

"Grande Prairie residents are great and it's because of their support we've had such excellent results," she said.

"It's a fun ride," she said, "and it's a beautiful ride." Sorer broke her leg recently and it's unlikely she'll be riding this year. Although her well-trained horse lays down so she can climb into the saddle easily, she's not sure if it would be safe in a crowd.

Nelson and her husband gladly donate the land and trails on their ranch. Nelson's mother has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years - prompting her to get involved with the fund-raising project.

The idea for the fund-raiser evolved from a card tournament Nelson had in her home a few years ago. She charged $5 admission and donated the money to MS research.

When she moved out of town, a friend suggested holding a poker rally on horseback and the trail ride came into being, she said.

Riders and sponsors who donate $25 or more are invited to camp for the weekend, said Nelson. Last year brought out 200 riders, with 600 people at base camp.

Saturday morning includes a free pancake breakfast. There's a potluck supper at 6 p.m., and an open air dance at 9 p.m. to keep campers busy, said Nelson.

Riders collect a minimum of $125 to participate. Prizes such as handcrafted harness and reins, hand-stitched saddle blankets and two saddles are awarded to the top money-raising participants.