Each week we honor an individual or organization that is doing good work in the horse world. Today we salute Daniel Freese.
Fifteen-year-old Daniel is Intern Barn Manager Assistant at Stillwater Stables, an equestrian facility in Wilmington, Ohio, where young people from all walks of life can come together to experience the joy of life with horses. Its riding program focuses on three major goals: relationships, leadership and purpose.
Since Daniel discovered Stillwater in 2009 it has become a major part of his life.
“Though I say it’s a riding program, it’s much, much, more,” he explains. “It’s a place to let down your walls, learn to love, and be yourself. Everybody has struggles, but it’s through them we learn. And it’s a lot easier to learn from them if you examine them in detail. Connie and Mike Patrick, the founders of Stillwater Stables, have helped me through tons of different situations, and I’m very thankful for them. Of course, it’s not just them, it’s the horses, the other people I call family, and the loving and understanding environment that has helped me.”
He recalls his first encounter with Stillwater. “When I first came out, it was kind of strange in its own way. I remember thinking, ‘Man, there is nowhere I fit in like this place!’ I used to struggle with trying to fit in in any way I could, even if it meant being someone I wasn’t. I don’t ever have that feeling at Stillwater — I am myself, and there is no question to it! But then comes the question, ‘Who am I really?’ Well, that’s a learning process in itself! I am the Assistant Barn Manager, an intern at Stillwater Stables, and am loving it! Stillwater Stables has changed my life in so many ways that I can’t even count, and I am very grateful for this place.”
Daniel wanted the opportunity to give back to program that had given him so much, so he hatched a plan for a fundraiser. With seven horses to care for, Stillwater depends on the generosity of its donors and volunteers to keep the place up and running. Daniel made a plan to bike an average of 25 miles a day for 25 days between July 23 and August 16, with a goal of 600 miles total. He sent out a call for support by way of pledges. For example: If someone were to pledge 10 cents per mile for all 600 miles, they would be donating $60. If 20 people pledged 10 cents per mile, he would raise $1,200, which would buy 266 bales of first cutting hay — which would keep the horses fed for around nine months.
“Since I do not own a vehicle, and currently am not old enough to drive one, I ride my bike,” Daniel says. “I ride to the barn, which round trip is 22 miles, or into town, or to friend’s house, so why not fundraise by doing something I love! It’s surely not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. My bike route will consist of going different places, such as Stillwater Stables, bike trails, and pretty much anywhere I feel compelled to ride.”
A video of Daniel’s July 23 kick-off:
Daniel posted an update on the Pedal for Purpose Facebook page yesterday (you must be logged in to Facebook to view):
“Every horse here is loved by a kid who comes out and they need your support,” Daniel says. “Every donation, every sponsor, it all helps! That’s why it’s called Pedal for a Purpose — I’m pedaling for Stillwater Stables and asking you to make a pledge for each mile I pedal. No matter how small or large a gift, it all helps. Whether you choose to sponsor me for a penny a mile or a dollar a mile, every donation counts!”
Want to help Daniel help Stillwater Stables? Donate at http://stillwater-stables.org/donate (specify that it is for Pedal for Purpose).
Go Daniel, and Go Riding!
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. 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.