Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer

Beacon Correspondent

Hope Equestrian Relay Organization's Ride for Life will be holding their ninth annual ride at the Ferndale Fairgrounds Race Track on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Anyone interested in participating can still get a team together or come ride by themselves with sponsors to help raise money for the Humboldt County Cancer Society.

HERO is a nonprofit organization that was started by Holly LaCount during her freshman year in 2004 at Eureka High School as part of the Environmental and Spatial Technology service learning program.

The theory behind EAST is for students to develop projects to solve problems in their community. Holly LaCount lost her grandmother Joy in 2003 to ovarian cancer and this loss drove her to the idea of raising money for cancer research and support services.

”I wanted to find a project that combined my love for horses and my desire to make a difference in the community,” LaCount said.

LaCount planned and implemented the first HERO Ride for Life equestrian relay event. Since its creation there are spin-off rides in Red Bluff in April and in Clinton, Ark. The first HERO event brought over $12,000 for the cause. More recent years have brought over $28,000 with over $145,000 total for the eight years the event has been running.

This year the event has drawn seven pre-registered teams, which Diana LaCount, Holly's mother, said is unusual and exciting.


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”We have 52 riders already signed up to ride rain or shine,” said Diana LaCount.

Those who register prior to the event receive five extra raffle tickets for the event. There is a team costume contest highest money raised prizes for teams and individuals. The event will also have horse demonstrations, a bake sale, craft sale, and games.

The Ferndale Fairgrounds has overnight camping available for the event. Dry camping is $10 and full hookup camping is $20. In addition there are stall rentals available during the day for $6 and overnight for $10. You can get more information about camping or stalls from the Ferndale Fairground by calling 725-1306.

HERO has sweatshirts available in limited quantities. Anyone interested can contact herorideforlife@gmail.com.

There will registration on Saturday beginning at 7 a.m. for last-minute riders. Riders can come anytime during the event to ride and do not have to ride the full event time. Holly LaCount is at law school and is unable to attend this event, but her mother Diana will be on hand to make sure things go smoothly. This year in Holly's absence taking her place as Director is Morgan Johnson who attends Arcata High School.

The HERO Tax ID number for donations is 27-0994681 if you would like to make a donation to one of the riders or event. For more information contact Diana LaCount at 496-1099.

Photo caption:

Photo by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon

Redwood Preparatory Charter School student Emily McTigue, 10, and her horse Cotton Candy aka C.C. warm up in the days prior to their third year participating in the HERO Ride for Life with their team from Lost Coast Pony Club. The team has placed second for the three years of participation in total funds raised in the youth team division.