Following the Pony Express Riders of Iowa’s annual Easter weekend ride, Kennedy Brown, 7, had the chance to ride a “horse of a different color” in the Spencer Bomgaars parking lot Friday. Each year the Pony Express Riders of Iowa complete a statewide ride to raise funds for Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines. This year the Pony Express Riders statewide goal was to raise $250,000.
“The statewide goal is to raise $250,000 for Camp Sunnyside, which is a camp for handicapped people in Iowa,” Don Essick, Clay County chairman of the Pony Express Riders of Iowa, explained. “The charity has always benefited Camp Sunnyside. The money that is donated here does eventually come back to the county as wheelchairs, crutches and braces for people who can’t afford them. Also, if a family can’t afford to send their child to Camp Sunnyside, this money is also used for scholarships.”
The Pony Express Riders of Iowa were founded by Stub Johnson, Leo Gray and Wayne Neilson, and conducted its first ride in Clay County in 1967. The project was expanded across the state in 1968.
“This is the 48th statewide ride we’ve done,” Essick said. “And, I have participated in every one of them.”
The ride takes 20 horses to complete; however, this year more ponies showed up than horses. Because the ride would be hard on the ponies’ smaller legs, the animals were transported by trailer between each stop.
When the riders reached their final stop at the Bomgaars parking lot in Spencer, children had the opportunity to ride the ponies and horses while being led by their owners.