RUTLAND, Ohio — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Meigs County, Ohio, have a unique connection.
In the last 20 years, more than $209,000 has been raised for the hospital at the St. Jude Saddle Up Trail Ride on the Dill Farm. This Saturday will be the 21st year for the ride, which takes place on Beech Grove Road in the Rutland area. Registration is at 9 a.m. with the ride starting at noon. Everyone is welcome to “saddle up” and take part in the ride with whatever donation they want to make as their registration fee, with all proceeds going to St. Jude.
The trail is 10 miles long and follows the rolling hills of Rutland Township, starting on the Dill Farm and crossing the properties of around 15 of the Dill’s neighbors. This year, a new section of trail has been added and there will once again be a break in the middle of the ride to allow for riders to receive a snack and drink — water will also be provided for the horses just past the break area.
Shortly after riders return, a hog roast and meal will be provided with one hog each donated from Farmers Bank and Home National Bank, both purchased at the Meigs County Fair Livestock Sale. There will also be hot dogs, beans and drinks. Also, the top money collectors will be recognized and drawings will take place for prizes and cash.
Last year, the ride raised $21,900 for St. Jude and had more than 247 people registered to participate. Riders typically come from the Meigs, Gallia and Mason county areas and beyond, some far beyond, including Kentucky. There will be restroom facilities and camping is permitted on the Dill Farm as well.
Isabel and Michael Dill, along with their four children, and about 50 of their closest friends and family members, help pull off the ride each year. The couple will soon celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary, which means the ride has been a part of their life together for 21 years, long before their children arrived.
“We just celebrated our 31st anniversary, now we’re celebrating our 21st trail ride together,” Isabel said. “This thing is such a big part of our lives and not only part of our (immediate) family now, but we’ve got all our family members involved in some shape or form, as well as neighbors. We all realize it’s such a wonderful thing.”
As for why they chose St. Jude, Isabel said: “We just wanted to try to help out all these kids and we know the cost (for intensive medical care) is horrible. We couldn’t imagine having a child in a hospital like that and then having to worry about the bill. At St. Jude, you don’t have to worry about a bill, just worry about your child … it (St. Jude) is just a true blessing.”
Growing the event over the years takes a lot of work and commitment, but Isabel says she still enjoys it, especially the part when she returns from the ride and her sister tells her the total amount of money raised for such a worthy cause.
“I’m like a little kid in a candy story, I can’t wait to see what it (the total) is … that’s my favorite part, seeing how caring people really are.”
For those interested in the trail ride, just show up for registration on Saturday. The Dill Farm is located at 34015 Beech Grove Road, Rutland. Just follow the GPS and look for the horses. Also, Isabel can be reached by calling 740-742-2849 or email her at [email protected]
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.