Mansfield, and then the world - riding for Mansfield Autism
NOVEMBER will see Mansfield Autism resurrect its commemorative rideathon, with an event launch on October 28 to honour some of the key contributors to the service over the last 50 plus years.
Past president and life member of Mansfield Autism, former local MP and cattleman Graeme Stoney will be participating in the launch ride, which begins at the Mansfield Showgrounds from 11.30am, taking a route through the town centre up to the Mansfield Autism Statewide Services (MASS) farm on Ogilvies Road before returning to the showgrounds.
One of 14 riders, other participants include Deputy Mayor James Tehan representing his mother Marie, who herself was a politician and assisted Dr Joan Curtis to start the service back in the late sixties, as well as Martin Hunt a current board member at MASS, Simone Reeves the chief executive officer, Justin Meadows representing APEX, and Mike Davies representing Mansfield Pony Club, who were key contributors in the early days.
MASS student Ross Vincent will ride having developed confidence from MASS’ equine therapy program, along with Mark Calvert-Jones who will be representing grandmother Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who was a key benefactor over many years, with all participants riding horses kindly supplied by Hidden Trails on Horseback for the event.
“We are also hoping that Dr Joan Curtis, our founder, along with her son Jonathon, will be able to join the few kilometre round trip in a horse and jinker provided by Kylie Egan,” said Ms Reeves.
The first Mansfield Rideathon took place in 1971 to raise funds for the organisation’s travelling teacher service, with the rideathon running annually for many years before a long hiatus.
This year will see the event return to Mansfield Autism’s fundraising calendar to celebrate its 50 year anniversary, as well as generate funds for the centre’s expansion plan, Operation Gamechanger.
No longer one specific ride; the rideathon has changed so riders anywhere, anytime can register to ride and contribute their kilometres and dollars raised to a combined total.
With a projected cost over $30 million, Operation Gamechanger includes a new term therapeutic school campus, residences for students, respite and crisis care, recreational facilities, family camp, equine therapy centre, swimming pool, walking and cycling tracks as well as professional development training facilities on Mansfield Autism’s recently purchased 100 acre farm.
On top of the significant state and federal government funding received, Mansfield Autism will also contribute up to $8 million to Operation Gamechanger, which as a not-for-profit, makes every extra dollar raised or donated vital.
Director Simone Reeves said that fundraising was a critical part of Mansfield Autism’s contribution to the plan.
“Our Mansfield Rideathon target is to raise enough to build one of our accessible six person family camp cabins, which is about $450,000,” she said.
The Rideathon asks horse riders to contribute their distance ridden in November toward a collective total, with the goal to ride ‘Around the world in 30 days’, covering over 40,075 kilometres to achieve this feat.
Riders of all disciplines, ages and abilities are encouraged to participate, whether they own their own horse, borrow a friend’s or sign up with a trail ride operator.
There is also no limitation on location, so that any rider can register for the event whether they are local, national or international.
Riders can donate a lump sum, a per kilometre ridden amount or gain sponsors for the event.
“Part of the fun will also be seeing everyone’s images with their steeds riding for autism,” said Ms Reeves.
Local trail riding businesses including Hidden Trails, McCormack’s, Watson’s and Buckle Up Bushrides, Mansfield Riding Centre as well as other local clubs are among those that have thrown their support behind the fundraiser.
“Globetrotting International Rides and Watson’s Mountain Country Trail Rides have put on a special November departure for their Howqua River Ride, and the Mansfield Pony Club and the Equestrian Club have teams entered,” said Ms Reeves.
Running throughout November, the rideathon is the main annual fundraiser for Mansfield Autism, that includes the Man From Snowy Movie Night on November 1 and the High Country Bush Dance Ball on November 27.
So if you’re not up for a ride, there are other ways you can support the service, whether that’s through a donation or sponsoring a rider, buying a commemorative cap or attending one of the other events planned in November.