The 14th edition of the Battle River Ride for STARS is in the books.
According to organizer and chairperson Henry Thomas, the 2023 edition of the Paintearth County-based event raised around $24,000, though final donations, and expenses, were still coming in.
“It went very well,” said Thomas.
“The supper, the whole experience went well.”
This year’s ride, held on July 15, was dedicated to the memory of Cheryl Wiart, a long-time supporter of the event.
Thomas says that Paul and Sharon Wiart, Cheryl’s parents, attended the ride’s supper at base camp which made the evening even more special.
The Battle River Ride for STARS is a 14-mile horseback ride through the river valley northeast of Castor and west of Brownfield.
Riders collect pledges, with all the money raised going towards STARS air ambulance.
What started as a modest fundraiser in 2009 with 15 riders has blossomed into an event that routinely has over 100 riders every year; in 2023, 138 riders took part and previously there have been nearly 200.
“It’s a huge achievement,” said Thomas.
Some of the highlights of the 2023 event; the youngest rider was just four-years-old, the oldest was 75, and riders came from as far away as Creston, B.C.
In the 14 years since the ride started, it has raised over $250,000 for STARS and split off into a separate ride near St. Albert, Alta., the Blackfoot Ride for STARS, which is set to take place Sept. 16.
The Battle River Ride for STARS was founded by Henry’s mom, Carol Thomas, and Marilyn Polege to raise funds for the Alberta-based air ambulance service.
With the death of his mom in April of 2023, Thomas says that the 15th ride will be in honour of her. He also noted that the ride’s logo will be subtly changing, with the addition of her initials.
In addition to the ride, the Battle River Ride for STARS is also selling raffle tickets for a new, custom, saddle which are available at a few locations throughout the region as well as through the ride’s Facebook page. Tickets will be available until Sept. 20.
A total of funds raised through both rides and saddle raffle sales will be available towards the end of September.