Amanda Autrey, a 14-year-old freshman at Oakdale High and a five-year member of the Waterford 4-H group, recently raised $8,432 for St. Jude's Research Hospital.
You read that right — $8,432.
Amanda held a trail ride to benefit the hospital in order to complete her Emerald Star project for 4-H. To get the award, members must plan and hold a fund-raiser. The idea is to help young people learn about project planning and organization.
Amanda decided to host a trail ride, which she called Saddle Up for St. Jude. She started planning in January for the May 3 event. She solicited donations of everything from food to prizes to entertainment. There was a variety of Western and bluegrass music, as well as cowboy poetry and a lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers. Amanda even had programs printed, listing the lineup of entertainment.
The event was held at the Kistler Ranch in Jamestown. The Backcountry Horsemen helped organize the trail ride. Country singer Rich Price sang for free.
More than 150 people came and, even though it was raining, about 100 people rode. Amanda asked for a minium donation of $20 per rider, but received much more.
Amanda says she chose St. Jude's "because it's a research hospital for kids with medical conditions."
She was pleased with the amount of donations she was able to get.
"We gave out prizes to the people who donated the most," she said. "I wrote a letter to Toby Keith, who is a big supporter of St. Jude's as well, and he gave me an autographed photo of himself to give as a gift!"
Overall, the event was a huge success. "It's very rewarding to have done something good that you know is going to affect someone in such a good way."
Dionne Evans is a senior at Johansen High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.