Fiesta Day marks the beginning of the summer season in Canyon Lake, a day of celebration and fun for the entire family. In Canyon Lake there is one group that has some extra celebrating to do: the Canyon Lake Equestrian Club. Parade-goers will see several members of this group on horseback as they join other clubs and organizations to march down Canyon Lake Dr. tomorrow morning.
Within this small group are two very special women who have each fought a major personal battle and, with the support of family and friends – both human and equine – are winning their battles.
Meg Newton and Gretchen Ursich have not been able to spend as much time during the past year with their beloved horses, Marley and Foxy, because they literally have been fighting for their lives. Meg with ovarian cancer and Gretchen with lymphoma. Both are now in remission.
Along the rough and twisted road to remission, the women, men, kids and (yes) even the horses at the barn have been there to support Meg and Gretchen.
In February, a small group of Canyon Lake equestrians and their horses participated in the “Hoofin It For a Cure,” a two-hour ride in Norco to raise awareness and money for the American Cancer Society. They rode for their friends and barn-mates, Meg and Gretchen, and they raised $1700 to help fight cancer.
Touched deeply by the ride in Norco, Equestrian Club member and parade co-organizer Mary Blair brought up the idea of equestrians in the Fiesta Day parade bringing support and awareness not only for Meg and Gretchen, but for all survivors and everyone fighting a cancer war.
Says Mary, “It’s unfortunate that it takes something happening to one of your own, but we’re excited about celebrating their courage, determination and endearing friendship.”
Gina Hipsak, who also rode in the Hoofin It For a Cure, says she was so inspired by the ride that she was instantly on board with the idea of using the Fiesta Day parade as a platform to show support for other survivors.
Interestingly, it was discovered that among the small group of Canyon Lake equestrians are several other survivors or spouses of survivors. “It’s absolutely amazing how many this disease has affected even in a group as limited as this,” says one equestrian, “you just never know.” After 15 long months of treatments, including 17 sessions of chemotherapy as well as major surgeries and clinical trials for ovarian, fallopian, cervical and uterine cancers, Meg just recently received her long-anticipated diagnosis of remission. With emotion
clearly written across her face, Meg says, “I can’t say enough about the support I’ve gotten here at the barn! Everyone has been so phenomenal!”
She smiles from ear to ear, her love and respect obvious as she talks of her horse Marley, and the mental and physical therapy he has provided for her during her journey. “People who don’t have a passion for horses cannot possibly understand what they do for us, especially under circumstances such as this,” she adds.
Gretchen will not be able to ride in the parade; however, she is looking forward to many more hours with her special friend and equine partner Foxy.
Meg Newton on Marley, Jenna Sims on Payback, Sarah Roberts on Sadie, Gina Hipsak on Evert, Vicki Vawter on Maverick, Kellie Manning on Sassy, co-organizer Mary Blair on Willis, co-organizer Gretchen Painter, Kendall Cochran, Melissa Roberts, Becky Sims, Amber Anderson and Ashley Moorman.
Not everyone will be riding. Some will be in golf carts and doing road-apple cleanup. Others will be helping with the horses and performing other behind-the-scene duties. Mary Blair is responsible for purchasing the matching T-shirts.
“We Ride for Cancer Awareness – No One Fights Alone” say the equestrians riding in tomorrow’s parade. So show support with a wave and a shout out. They will be easy to recognize with their bright teal or lime green T-shirts, sparkles and leg wraps – and mounted on some very pretty horses!