By Roxanne Baker
Marines may be more familiar with rifles than with reins, but nevertheless stampeded into the ring to learn the horse riding skills of a cowboy.
The Marine Corps Association & Foundation helped kick up the spurs for the 2012 Cowboy Challenge & Barn Dance event with a $3,000 donation. Team Semper Fi hosted the fundraiser in Culpeper, VA Sept. 29.
“Our mission is recovery through sport,” said coordinator Casey Fisher. “We bring the guys together in an atmosphere that promotes recovery and healthy lifestyle and we raise awareness in the communities we’re in.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund delivers immediate financial assistance to injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Team Semper Fi, a branch of the nonprofit, aids in the recovery process by challenging wounded Marines and Sailors in athletic events. Ten injured Marines, five active duty and five veterans, participated in the cowboy challenge and learned skills of how to take care of horses and ride around obstacles.
“(The injured) need support to take them from sitting on their couch and give them something to be excited about,” Fisher said. “This is important because it keeps their minds sharp and their bodies healthy on the road to recovery.
”About 150 people attended the cowboy challenge and then stayed for the barn dance and barbeque. During dinner there was a silent auction and a live auction. The nonprofit was able to raise about $17,000 before costs.
Fisher said it costs about $1,000 to fund travel and activity expenses for each injured Marine. About 95 percent of all money raised is put directly back into programs, Fisher said. Fisher said he appreciates MCA&F’s $3,000 donation to the cowboy challenge and hopes it sets the example for other companies will contribute to helping injured Marines and Sailors.
A name like MCA&F with its history and reputation gives us a lot of clout because it’s willing to give money to another organization because they recognize what we’re doing is important,” Fisher said. “It sets the precedence for other organizations in the community. Not only for exposure, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s imperative to give back to the people who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.”