-This is a story that everyone should read. Hopefully this helps more people know about the ride so they can make it there and support such a great cause.
In June 2002, cowboy Curtis Anderson was in Ponoka competing in a bull riding competition. The last thing Anderson remembers is sitting on a 680-kilogram bull. Three weeks later he woke up in hospital.
Since then Anderson has had to learn everything all over again.
“I had to learn how to walk again, put letters to words and words to sentences,” said Anderson.
“Now I can do an hour and a half of exercise, I’ve regained my driver’s license and I have gone back to helping out on my uncle’s farm.”
Since suffering his injury Anderson has been working with Courage Canada to support brain injury awareness.
2011 marks Anderson’s seventh Courage Canada Trail Ride and on May 28 Anderson expects the ride to be bigger than ever as support for his cause has grown significantly.
“Last year we raised $17,000 for brain injury awareness, this year my goal is to raise $30,000 from this ride,” said Anderson.
“This year the support has been greater as we have more sponsors for the event and many riders are filling out their pledge forms.”
All proceeds from the Trail Ride is split 50/50 between the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS) and the Halvar Jonson Centre for Brain Injury in Ponoka, to help families with travel, medical costs and support for therapeutic riding.
“The money we raise will go to helping injured patients from day one and support them throughout their recovery,” said Anderson.
Chris Richards, program manager at the Halvar Jonson Centre in Ponoka said Curtis and his family has been instrumental in helping families travel long distances to see their loved ones at the rehabilitation centre.
“Curtis and his family asked that some of the money donated be set aside for families who travel longer distances to come here to visit their loved ones. This was an experience Curtis’ family had because they were traveling from Minburn to Ponoka,” said Richards, adding she sees many patients and families from all over the province and some from British Columbia.
For Anderson, raising funds for brain injury patients is only half the mission on May 28.
He’s inviting patients to come out for the ride and enjoy the fresh spring air and spend the day outdoors with family and friends.
“This is a day they’ll look forward to again and remember for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Riders have two options, bring their own horse and ride along the trail or register to ride on one of the many wagons provided by the Anderson family. Last year, Anderson said the ride had a record 125 horses plus wagons.
“This is a great way to get the community involved with each other. It’s a way to get everyone in and raise awareness of brain injury,” he said.
Anderson’s ride this year will feature a special guest Hugh McLennan from CFCW Radio 790, host of the Spirit of the West radio show. McLennan will be the master of ceremonies for the dinner and dance at the Innisfree rec centre following the trail ride. The dinner will also feature cowboy poetry, poetry with a Western flavour according to Anderson.
McLennan said he will be doing just about anything that evening, from playing guitar and singing songs off his new album to reciting cowboy poetry.
After meeting Anderson a handful of times over the past two years, McLennan said Anderson’s courage and determination is an inspiration.
“There’s something about his direct approach, the sparkle in his eyes and his enthusiasm and positive attitude that’s irresistible I find,” he said.
McLennan recalls riding and performing cowboy poetry at Lakeland College’s Western Ranch and Cow Horse program a number of years ago in Vermilion.
Anderson said the resounding support from the community has given him hope this trail ride will be around for a long time.
“The support for this shows how much respect is out there. I hope it gets to one day where there’s a waiting list for this trail ride,” said Anderson.
“There’s an expression, if you get a turtle on top of a fence post you know he had some help getting there. I’m that turtle and I’d like to thank my family and friends and the community for all their support,” he said.
Tickets can be purchased at Craig’s in Vermilion for $20 and it includes the ride, supper and dance. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the ride begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. at the Christensen farm eight kilometres south of Highway 16 and a quarter-mile east of Range Road 501A. The troop then heads to the Innisfree Rec Centre for the evening. On Sunday Anderson invites riders for a cowboy church service at the Minburn Community Hall.
For more information on the trail ride contact Curtis at 780-581-4802.