Horse research spurs friends to take action

Classmates hold bake sale to benefit their project’s subject, N.C. Therapeutic Riding Center

schandler@newsobserver.comDecember 23, 2012 

COURTESY OF N.C. THERAPEUTIC RIDING CENTER

When it came time for Montessori Community School students Noor Jerath and Kate Keelan to choose their “going-out experience,” it wasn’t really a tough call.

“We both love horses and know a lot about horses,” said Noor, a fourth-grader from Chapel Hill, “but neither of us knew anything about therapeutic riding. So we wanted to fill in something about horses that we didn’t know about.”

The friends’ research on therapeutic riding led them to the N.C. Therapeutic Riding Center in Mebane, which pairs specially trained horses and handlers with people who face special challenges to provide positive, healthy experiences.

Before long, their question was answered and they had a destination for their required trip to a place within their community, but they wanted to do more. They noticed a plea for donations on the nonprofit Therapeutic Riding Center’s website, “so we thought it’d be nice to donate to them,” Noor said.

So last month, the girls held a bake sale to benefit the center, hoping to raise about $100. They ended up with double that amount ($200.05, to be exact), “and that was pretty awesome,” said Kate, a fifth-grader who lives in Durham.

They got there by making “tons of good stuff,” according to Noor, such as cookies and muffins, and their top sellers, brownies and chocolate cake “with gooey dripping chocolate sauce.” They set up a table in front of their school, in Durham, and tempted passers-by and parents picking up their children with tasty treats and a good cause.

Along the way, they learned a lot about fundraising – and teamwork.

“We had a lot of places we got really frustrated, because there were tons of problems,” Noor said. “But it was really fun to have to work our way through the problems and figure stuff out.”

Kate said working with her friend “definitely made it a bit more fun, because there were some things that she was better at doing and some things that I was a little bit better at doing, so I think it was better that we did it together.”

Best of all was the feeling that came from working hard for a cause they believe in.

“It was a really fun experience to raise money for an organization that you care about,” Kate said. “It just made me feel good. I’m happy I did it.”

And the N.C. Therapeutic Riding Center was happy they did it, too.

Upon hearing that the center would be the beneficiary of the girls’ bake sale, Executive Director Annie Baggett thought “this is terrific, what great little philanthropists,” she said.

The center often gets donations from young people who raise a few bucks through lemonade stands and other endeavors, Baggett said, “and that’s awesome.” But she was “very surprised,” she said, when the girls showed up with $200, a sum Baggett said will help provide two riding classes to clients who can benefit from the therapy.

Noor and Kate delivered the proceeds in person, touring the farm, meeting some of the horses, and having lunch on a deck overlooking the pastures.

The visit was just one of many things the girls have done together. They take horseback riding lessons together, and sometimes they just hang out.

“We talk a lot,” Noor admitted. “We talk about horses, we talk about NCTRC. And sometimes we don’t actually talk when we’re hanging out with each other. We just stand there. And actually it’s really fun.”

Sometimes, talk turns to the bake sale they held and what they might do differently next time.

“We learned one thing,” said Noor, who said she and Kate are in agreement here: “Whenever I see her at school, she says, ‘We should make more brownies.’”

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