RUTLAND — The 17th annual St. Jude Trail Ride held recently at the Dill Farm was the biggest it’s ever been, raising more that $22,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
“This was our biggest year yet,” said Isabel Dill. “The Lord has really blessed us.”
A total of 317 riders, nearly 100 more that last year, took part in the 10-mile ride through the hills of Rutland Township. An additional 38 were registered as helpers and volunteers.
As of Wednesday, a total of $22,164.76 had been raised through the ride, raffles, and donations. Riders are given a few additional days to turn in money raised, so that number could rise.
A banner placed near the entrance to the field displayed the total amount of funds raised before this year, $145, 741.25. That total now stands at more that $167,000.
A memory wall was also set up to remember those who helped with or took part in the trail ride over the years and have since passed on. Those honored on the memory wall were Larry Hoschar, Sherry Bailey, Shaker John Cain, Jo Joyce Frye and Butch Cornelius Phillips.
The Saddle Up for St. Jude trail ride at the Dill Farm near Rutland has become an annual tradition, drawing participants from around the region.
Isabel Dill said in the past, riders have come to the event from several neighboring counties — some camping for the entire weekend.
Debbie Lewis of Mason, W.Va. was the top money collector for the event, raising $1,588. Jim Davis of Syracuse collected the second most money with $1,545, and Jerry Smathers of Athens was third in funds raised with $1,530. Prizes were awarded to each of the top three money collectors.
Several participants make the trail ride a weekend event, with camping and a backward trail ride on Sunday. Dill said approximately 15 camped on Thursday evening, with around 40-50 camping on Friday and Saturday.
Participants in the ride were eligible to win one of the 155 door prizes donated for the event.
A raffle for items, such as a western saddle, Aussie saddle, cowboy bench, cooler with two chairs, saddle bags, a quilt and a saddle stand also helped to raise funds for St. Jude.
“All in all, we had a great weekend. The Lord has really blessed this ride and all the riders,” said Dill. “This ride was so successful because of all the family and friends that pitched in to help. We can’t thank them enough.”
The family plans to continue with the event next year.
For more information on Saddle Up for St. Jude, visit mysaddleupforstjude.org or stjude.org.