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North Chester Saddle Club rides to raise money for St. Jude’s

Anyone driving on Chester County’s Quinn Road Sunday afternoon might have noticed a little extra horsepower on the drive.

The road was practically one lane, as nearly 100 people, horses, a wagon and tractor with an attached trailer embarked on a 6-mile ride from the North Chester Saddle Club, all for one good reason: to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

“If you really love something and it’s for a good cause, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it,” said Elly Turbeville, 13.

Sunday’s event was also a chance for Turbeville to spend time with her grandfather, Gene Turbeville. The two have been riding horses for most of their lives.

It also touched on a personal note: Gene Turbeville had lost his father to pancreatic cancer.

Each person who participated in the trail ride gave a donation as he or she pulled into the club’s arena. The donations all go to St. Jude’s to help pay for research – research that could help save more people from cancer.

Nancy Stewart, director of the Saddle Club, said this is the 15th year they’ve put together a horseback trail ride for St. Jude’s.

In the past, Stewart said, they have had cancer patients come out to ride horses and have seen the joy it brought everyone.

They decided to help even more, and the opportunity arose when Stewart and others received information from St. Judeâ™s on different ways they could help raise money for research.

“One of the ways we could help was to have a trail ride,” Stewart explained. “It fit in with us.”

Since then, they’ve had an average of 100 people each year, she said.

Several of those people are repeat riders, coming together every year for the cause.

“It’s something you look forward to doing every year,” Gene Turbeville said. “It’s for such a good cause. We feel good about it.”

Lauren Heaton took a ride on the tractor’s trailer with 2-year-old daughter Rylan. She had brought Rylan last year, when she was just a year old, and the event was important to her.

“It’s really cool,” Heaton said of the fundraiser. “It’s a good reason for a lot of people.”

It even attracted some first-timers, too. Andrea Buford and her daughter, Sarah, 10, saddled up their horses, Buddy and Belle, for the occasion.

“It’s wonderful,” Andrea Buford said. “It’s a beautiful day.”

Sarah agreed, adding that she was enjoying the ride.

Ronnie Stephenson, of Stephenson Dairy, drove the wagon and helps plan the route each year. Organizers try to create a different route each year, he said, but last year’s worked so well they stuck with it for this year.

“We have a good community here, with very giving people,” Stephenson said of the fundraiser. “They give their time, they give their money. It’s a good cause. We just enjoy it.”