This week’s honoree: Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony.
Each Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. This week, we’re recognizing Willberry Wonder Pony, the charity foundation started by Hannah Francis to support bone cancer research.
Hannah Francis was like so many young riders: she worked hard with her two event horses and dreamed of competing internationally some day for her home nation of Great Britain. At age 17, however, Hannah was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer known as osteosarcoma. Hannah vowed to fight back against this disease, and with the help of a trusty sidekick in the form of a stuffed horse called Willberry, formed Willberry Wonder Pony both as a symbol of her battle and as a charity to help fund bone cancer research.
Sadly, Hannah passed away on August 1 of this year — but her inspiring fighter’s spirit lives on through Willberry and his traveling friend Wanderberry, who you may have spotted in multiple photos from behind the scenes at the 2016 Olympics. Wanderberry raises awareness for Hannah’s legacy and cause. Additionally, the Willberry Wonder Pony charity lives on, vowing to continue #kickingcancersbutt (Hannah’s hashtag).
Hannah marveled at the reach she and Willberry had achieved — the equestrian community, for as vast and global as it may be, is also tight-knit and takes care of its own. Willberry Wonder Pony has not only raised funds for cancer research but helped inspire Hannah’s fellow equestrians — ranging from recreational riders to international stars like Charlotte Dujardin and William Fox-Pitt — to make every ride count.
If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.