Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Our Heritage at Risk

                                                                                                                                                     ©2012 LORI HUFF
Karen Sussman, ISPMB president and modern day Wild Horse Annie,
speaking to the audience at the recent fundraiser, Our Heritage at Risk

Our Heritage at Risk, the wild horse fundraising event for the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs & Burros (ISPMB) that Lori Huff and myself hosted is now history. However, many of the events that took place leading up to and during the event are indelibly etched in my spirit.

It all began last October. Terri Watson had driven all the way to our home in Allenspark, to hand-deliver a copy of her new book, Graceful Wind. It was a picture book about a filly that was born at the ISPMB facility during a photography workshop that Lori and I had conducted earlier that year in May.

Terri and her friend, along with Lori and myself, were setting around the dining room table, drinking coffee and Diet Coke, listening to Terri as she shared how she planned to use the book to raise money. Half of the funds raised would go to an equine therapy program run by the Griffith Centers for Children and the other half would be given to ISPMB.

                                                                                                                                                     ©2012 LORI HUFF
(L-R) Gabriele Moritz and her dog, Gabriels's friend Pat, Karen Sussman, Coppersmith, and Weldon Lee

I was well aware of the financial struggles of ISPMB, having led photography workshops at their facility since 2003.  In fact, I had approached Karen Sussman, president of the organization, in August, 2010, with the idea of getting school children to adopt a foal by raising money through bake sales, car washes, etc. This could be carried out in schools across the country. The children could name the foal. In return, we would send them a certificate of adoption and photograph of the foal, along with monthly updates as it matured into a full-grown mare or stallion. So far, we have yet to get any schools involved.

Anyway, I began thinking out loud and said, “Why don’t we put on a fundraising event for Karen!” and that’s how it all started.

After mulling the idea over for some time and gathering ideas from everyone we knew, we eventually put together a plan. Once a date and venue were finalized, we began sending out invitations. Much to our surprise, people began registering on my website . . . and that was good.  However, the big surprise came when donations from friends started coming in – donations ranging from $20 to $300.

It was time to contact businesses and seek sponsorship in the form of door prizes and items for our silent auction. Once again, the response we received was heart-warming.

Finally, the time had come to send out press releases to newspapers along Colorado’s Front Range. A couple of days after they went out, I received an email from Nancy Anderson of the West River Eagle, a newspaper in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. As it so happened, the Berthoud Recorder had posted my press release on their website. Ms Anderson saw it and contacted me wanting to know if it was “legit.” What’s so mystifying is the fact that Eagle Butte is where the ISPMB sanctuary is located. Talk about a small world!

                                                                                                                                                    ©2012 LORI HUFF
The audience listens on as Karen Sussmanshares stories about her friend, the real Wild Horse Annie.

Sign-ups didn’t come in as we had hoped. I began to worry. The event was less than four weeks away and only 10 people had registered.

Then we were down to a week. Still, only 21 individuals had signed up. Although this number plus donations represented roughly $1,000, which was all right, it didn’t leave very much for the horses, particularly when you deducted cost of airfare for Karen Sussman to fly to Denver.

About this time, I received a phone call from Gabriele Moritz. She wanted to know if it was all right to bring one of her adopted wild horses to the fundraiser. Absolutely! Hopefully, that would attract more people to the fundraiser. I breathed a sigh of relief. However, there was still work to be done. The public needed to know that they would have the opportunity to pet and photograph a real wild horse at the fundraiser.

Lori contacted both newspapers in Estes Park. They were wonderful. Both were willing to run another story about our fundraiser, announcing that a wild horse would be present.

Thanks to Julie Harvey of the Estes Park Trail Gazette, along with Kris Hazleton at Estes Park News, we had great write-ups and photos in both papers. It doesn’t end there. Nick Mollé ran our flyer on Estes Park TV everyday for almost two weeks.

Our Heritage at Risk was a huge success. According to a head-count conducted by Lori, 52 people attended the event; and, thanks to everyone’s overwhelming generosity we collected over $3,700 for the wild horses.

                                                                                                                               ©2012 LORI HUFF
Weldon Lee, the man who talks to wild animals, shares stories
of encounters with his wild brothers and sisters over the years.

I want to thank the following individuals.
Our Heritage at Risk would not have been possible
without your support.
Thank you.

Julie Harvey, Estes Park Trail Gazette
Kris Hazelton, Estes Park News
Nick Molle - Estes Park TV
Gabriel Moritz & her wild horse, Coppersmith

 Lori and I produced a DVD, Our Heritage at Risk.
All proceeds from its sales will go to ISPMB.
It features . . .
Wild horse images made during our photography workshops
at the ISPMB facility in South Dakota by:
Penny Lloyd
Connie Redak
Marge Maagoe
Mary O’Connell
Terri Watson
Lori Huff
and Background music from Canyon Trilogy,
an album of Native American flute music by:
Carlos Nakai

Individuals who donated Door Prizes and items for the Silent Auction
Sid & Laura Brown - Big Horn Restauraant
Jim Burry - commemorative coin set
Dawn Normali – Dawn Normail Original Oil Paintings
Andy Morgan - Dunraven Inn
Jim Haber - Estes Park Sweatshirt Center
Don Hess – Hunters Chop House
Judy Barnes – Judy Barnes Photography
Kevin & Debbie Weakland – Loveland Garden Center & Nursery
Lori Huff – Nature’s Secrets Photography
Prudy Brott - The Other Side Restaurant
Jo Adams - Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Lil & Chester Ciezczak - Rodeway Inn
Tom Mussehl – Wildlife Photo Art
Terri Watson, Photographer

Last, but certainly not least,
I want to thank everyone who took time from their busy schedules
to attend this event and help us support wild horses
in these tough economic times.

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