OHA Raises Nearly 15k for Ocala’s Paralympians

The Ocala Horse Alliance’s Connections with a Purpose event held on July 26th, netted just shy of $15K to assist Lauren Barwick and Cayla van der Walt on their journey to Tokyo for the Paralympic Games which begin August 24th, 2021.  

Held at the private residence of Tami Fratis at Tamarian Farms, the event was attended by over 125 people and included a silent auction of 45 items and a live auction with 8 items.  

Lauren Barwick did an inspirational exhibition ride which showcased her bridling and saddling her horse prior to her ride.  Lauren is paralyzed from the bellybutton down and is confined to a wheelchair except when riding horses.  The exhibition was emotional as many in attendance watched with admiration and marveled at the accomplishment and skill demonstrated both on and off the horse.

Cayla van der Walt, who will be competing for the first time at the Paralympic Games, briefly explained her experiences preparing for the Games. Her trainer, Trisha Bell, also gave insight to the Games and the challenges.

The extensive silent auction featured 45 items including a custom farm book from White Barn Press, gift baskets from Sparr, Tack Shack, FishHawk Spirits, a carriage ride by Kimberdon Farms, a Magna Wave treatment, a golf package from Bobby Clampett and much more.

The live auction, with professional auctioneer Joe Hayes, featured a special Chef’s dinner for four at Stirrups at the World Equestrian Center, a Hilton vacation package, a VIP Day at Gulfstream, a spot in Linda Parelli’s Master Class and two custom mosaic tables handcrafted by Jerry Paradise.

All funds raised at the event will go directly to Lauren and Cayla. The Ocala Horse Alliance Board of Directors and the Host Committee covered all the expenses of the event.  The Host Committee: Leslie Anne Bacon, Running Stag Farm, Stephen Day, Marisa DiMauro, Majestic Oaks, Tami Fratis, Tamarian Farms, Abby Fuller, Letitia Glenn, Bonnie Heath, Karen Kraushaar, Claudia Parkhurst, Gail Thompson, Ellie Trueman, Jeff Ulmer, and Kim van der Walt.

The Ocala Horse Alliance’s mission is to unify, educate, promote and grow the horse industry in Marion County.  Its centerpiece project, The Black Stallion Reading Project, is a five-year partnership with the Marion County Public Schools designed to harness the power of the horse to promote literacy and introduce horses and careers in the horse industry to 4th grade students at all 31 elementary schools.