by Marcia Mia, 2018 PVDA Ride for Life chair
(First appeared in August 2018 issue of 
The Equiery)

Jeannette Bair was the big fundraiser winner earning awards for Overall High Pledge, High Amateur Pledge and Gold Plateau Categories. ©Christina Dale

2018 marked the 15th Anniversary of the Potomac Valley Dressage Association’s (PVDA) Ride for Life, an annual dressage show to benefit Johns Hopkins University’s Breast Center. PVDA Board member Claire Lacey came up with “passion” as the winning theme for the show. Passion for life; passion for riding; passion for PVDA Ride for Life; passion for lifting each other up.

This year’s show raised a total of $60,000 for the center. In addition to donations raised for Johns Hopkins, additional cash, “in-kind,” and raffle donations as well as various tee-shirt, awards, class and breed sponsors helped PVDA cover the costs of the Fundraising and Fundraiser Freestyle Awards, volunteer tee-shirts and gifts, and Breed Sponsor Awards. Sponsorships supported the show with $26,775 worth of product, cash and donations.

What other organization of fewer than 500 members can say that they fund a surgical oncology fellowship at one of the top cancer institutions in the world?

Although at face value Ride for Life may just seem like any other dressage show, it is the fundraising aspect that sets this show apart. Many participated in the fundraising effort either through collecting donations or directly contributing to Ride for Life as donors. Jeannette Bair, PVDA’s rider donations chair, brought in some new participants in creative ways and kept everyone up to date on their individual fundraising progress.

High pledge award winners this year included Jeannette Bair for the Amateur category, Donna Gatchell for Professional, Saskia Paul for Junior/Young Rider and Karen Siebert for Phantom (horseless entry). Bair also earned the Overall High Pledge award.

In addition, PVDA honored Plateau Award winners for those who raised significant funds. Bair won the Gold Award for raising $5,000 or more. Silver winners (more than $2,500) included Shari Packard and Karen Siebert. Barbara Strawson, Donna Gatchell, Hallie Arnsbrak, Carolyn Del Grosso and Margaret Barber all earned Bronze awards (more than $1,000). Pink winners (more than $500) were Bridget Dellar, Shannon Bossung, Holly Wilmoth, Rebecca Langwost, Ashley Kennedy and Vanessa Meeks. The Newbie Raffle Winner for a first time donations collector was Mary Pat Hedges.  Kirsten Likins won the Raffle for Donations Up to $499 award.

The ever popular Fundraiser Freestyle, a separate unrecognized and un-judged Musical Freestyle TOC, — USEF or FEI TOC or true “free” style class was continued this year. Barbara Strawson and Pat Artimovich initiated the “Professional Challenge” by challenging other professional riders with a $500 minimum fundraising level to ride in the Fundraiser Freestyle on Saturday afternoon.  In addition to seven professional riders, spectators were treated to musical freestyle rides ranging from sidesaddle, to a six person drill team and everything in between!

Two-time breast cancer survivor and administrative director of Johns Hopkins Breast Center Lillie Shockney aboard Reddemeade’s Lunar Illusion. ©Christina Dale

Two-time breast cancer survivor Lillie Shockney and the administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center since 1997, rode her own special Fundraiser Freestyle this year on Reddemeade’s Lunar Illusion to the theme of “Stealing Second Base.” This summer, Shockney will be retiring from Johns Hopkins, and her enthusiasm and spirit of the ride will be greatly missed. In her honor, PVDA awarded Shockney a special Tribute Bowl inscribed with the PVDA Ride for Life logo.

The spectators selected the winners of the Fundraiser Freestyle by purchasing raffle tickets and placing them in the jar of the freestyle they liked best. Winners were announced at the Passion Party following the Freestyle.

Donna Gatchell won the Open/Professional Freestyle award and Robin Scarborough won the Amateur award. The Quadrille team from Reddemeade earned the Junior/Young Rider award.

Another popular part of Ride for Life is the annual Stall Decorating Contest. Annmari Ingersoll won the Individual award while the Group award went to the team efforts of Robin Petrasek, Jemma Przybocki and Kirsten Likins.

To read more about this year’s Ride for Life, see page 33 of the August 2018 Equiery.

For complete show results, visit