OKLAHOMA CITY – The first-ever Horseback Heroes Gala raised some $155,000 for the Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program.
Held at the Petroleum Club in downtown Oklahoma City, the event attracted 130 people who came to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Yukon-based nonprofit that helps children with disabilities through therapeutic horseback riding.
Established in 2013, the Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program is named after “Miss Savannah”, the daughter of Athena and Jerry Captain.
Organizers said Savannah Station has been “changing the lives of young people with special needs since its barn doors opened.”
The program serves 75 riders, the youngest being 4 years old.
Much credit for the success of Savannah Station goes to Executive Director Andi Holland, supporters said. It was Holland’s vision that has “catapulted the program beyond its wildest dreams.”
Savannah Station constantly strives to expand its program to assist every eligible child or adult gain social and emotional confidence; defy disabilities and physical challenges; and make lifelong friendships with horses and each other.
Savannah Station instructors, therapy horses, and volunteers give the students the ability to feel weightless, if only for a short time. The program also provides parents a unique opportunity to watch their children blossom and bond with others.
Verej Jazivar, executive vice president of the Petroleum Club, donated the space for the fundraiser. This happened after he was introduced to and embraced Savannah Station’s mission in 2022.
“With Verej’s support and attendance at the event, the gala was able to touch so many people who otherwise would never have known about this incredible organization,” said Nikki Cravens, one of the organizers for the gala.
“Heartwarming and impactful presentations were made by Athena Captain as well as the Wittrock family, whose son, Hunter, is a long-time rider in the program. Both Savannah and Hunter represented the real ‘Horseback Heroes’ of the event.”
DINNER, AUCTIONS AND MORE
Participants were treated to a seated dinner, open bar, a silent auction full of top shelf, allocated bourbons, and a live auction consisting of such unique experiences as an iguana hunt in South Florida and a “Friends of Makers Mark” tour and trip to Kentucky.
YNB sponsored the evening’s $1,000 raffle, and guests quickly raised $2,800 when they purchased and enjoyed $100 Bookers bourbon shots.
The surprise of the evening occurred when the gala co-chairs announced that Oklahoma natives, Reba McEntire and Rex Linn, were donating a package that included Reba’s new lifestyle book and album, both titled “Not That Fancy”, with a personal note from the superstar to the winning bidder, along with the exquisite full-length gown she wore at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards which she hosted with Blake Shelton, another well-known Oklahoma performer.
The one-of-a-kind gown included a signed picture of Reba and Blake, as well as a certificate of authenticity and was sold for more than $20,000.
The evening brought both tears and cheers, Cravens said. Parents of the Savannah Station riders told her they “could not believe strangers would spend this kind of money on our kids,” she added.
All proceeds from the gala go toward the continuation of free equine therapy for children with special needs, feed and care for the horses, a climate-controlled family waiting area, and training for new instructors.
Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program resides at 13420 Frisco Road in Yukon.
For more information, visit http://www.savannahstation.org or call (580) 303-2028.
Supporters said there are numerous ways to volunteer and help Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program.