Amy Rudick isn’t your average fifth-grader. The 11-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens struggled along with her family to afford riding lessons. She cashed in some savings bonds and was finally able to start riding and showing about two years ago. Most kids would have been satisfied with that accomplishment, but Rudick couldn’t stop thinking of all the other kids who wanted to ride but didn’t have the financial ability. She proposed an idea to her parents to start a nonprofit to provide riding lessons to deserving children with financial need. With the support of family and friends, For the Love of Riding, Inc. (4theluv.org) was born in late 2012.
“I’ve always been involved with animals,” Rudick said. “Horses give back what you give to them. They always bring a smile to my face. I feel very connected to horses.”
Rudick’s mom, Dr. Faith-Ann Cheek, is the director of charter schools for the Palm Beach County school district. She is impressed with her daughter’s desire to help other kids.
“I’m constantly amazed at her level of service,” Cheek said. “She’s very compassionate. Having been a middle school principal for so long, you don’t always see that in her age group.”
Rudick and Cheek hope to start offering riding scholarships in June. The nonprofit’s ability to help deserving kids hinges on its upcoming “Night at the Derby” fundraiser on Saturday at the Borland Center in Palm Beach Gardens. The free event will feature hors d’oeuvres and mint juleps, games, a raffle and silent auction, a hat contest and the derby itself on the big screen. Anyone wanting to attend should RSVP at 1-800-706-5604.
“We are really lucky because the Borland Center has been extremely generous,” Cheek said. “They really stepped up to help us. We wouldn’t have been able to pull this off without them.”
The fundraiser should provide enough funding for FTLOR to start offering riding scholarships. Applications are available on the website. In order to apply, the child must writer a letter of interest and submit their report card and a reference letter from a teacher.
“We thought it was important to point out in the application that acceptance into the program isn’t dependent on grades, but you do have to submit your report card,” Cheek said. “You have to prove that you turn in your homework and get to school on time. Grades have nothing to do with it, but the kids have to have good character.”
Four local trainers have volunteered their services so far. Trainer applications are also available on the website. Scholarship hopefuls can state what discipline they’d like to try during the application process. Rudick, a student at Beacon Cove Intermediate School in Jupiter, enjoys Western events such as barrel racing and pole bending. She considers herself a passionate equestrian, and hopes to award scholarships to other kids with a similar attitude.
“We’re looking for kids who really want to ride and who are going to be dedicated and show up and give it their all,” she said.
Amy Bower Doucette writes about the equestrian communities for Neighborhood Post. Send mail to 2751 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Call 561-820-4763, fax 561-837-8320. email@example.com