Horseback riders wade through mud for charity

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

HELENA, MS (WLOX) - As the sun set over Jackson County Saturday, horses and riders returned from a day-long ride like no other.

"Muddy," said Jerry Lee Taylor.  "Bad muddy. That's all I can say about it.  And fun."

The ride is an annual tradition for the Vice family of Helena.

"We take them down the river," Diane Vice said.  "We leave here and they ride down to the river, and there's lots of mud so we call it the Helena Mud Ride."

"We got people here from Alabama, Florida," said Lionel Ladner who rode Saturday's trails.   "We got people here from all over."

For the past 5 years, all the fun has been for charity.  For the past 2, that charity has been Toys for Tots, a toy drive that provides holiday gifts for underprivileged children.  Currently, the campaign works alongside the Salvation Army's Angel Tree campaign.

"I always get my Angel Tree babies for Toys for Tots, and I was noticing they always leave so many on the tree," Vice said.  "So I decided this year we're going to do Toys for Tots and give more back to the people.  This year with the economy the way it is, we know there's lots more kids. So we decided to do it again."

Riders reached into their wallets to help out.  Their donations filled a wagon with $2,000 of holiday gifts for families in need.

"We probably got about $2,000 on the wagon," Vice said.  "And we're expecting to raise another $3,000.  Close to 3$,000, maybe $4,000."

Toys for Tots organizers said more than 1,000 Jackson County families are on the list to receive toys from them this year.  That's the biggest number they've had since Hurricane Katrina.   They said providing for that many is a huge task, but the gift from Helena will help them get the job done.

"I think everybody out here does have a big heart," Taylor said.  "And you know its good to do things for everybody and do what you love at the same time."

"They like to ride and they like to enjoy what God's given us. And they're really generous," Vice said.  "They're just generous people."

By the end of the day, the group had raised more than $4,000 dollars for children in need.

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