20-07-22 Swiftsure horse 13@.jpg

Swiftsure therapy horse Lucky Patch 13 looks back at Zeus God of Striker, prior to the start of the Swiftsure virtual Derby fundraiser.

The nonprofit Swiftsure Ranch equestrian therapy center is off to the races with a creative fundraiser during the time of social distancing.

The virtual “Swiftsure Derby” is billed as “a race for strength, freedom and connection” that will benefit the 110 riders who attend the ranch’s programs.

Swiftsure Ranch sits on 191 acres south of Bellevue. All of its programs are offered free of charge to “encourage the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children and adults with disabilities through equine-assisted activities and therapies,” according to a recent press release.

Swiftsure spokesperson Nancy Glick said caring for each of the ranch’s 18 therapy horses costs about $4,000 per year, per horse, and that it is vital to keep them in tip top shape.

“Our herd of therapy horses is the lifeblood of our organization’s mission and we cannot provide our services without them,” Glick said.

Derby sponsors can help the ranch meet its goal of $75,000 by picking a horse and making bets (donations) on its chances to win the derby. Additional donations can put the horse closer to the finish line.

Glick said the SPUR Foundation recently announced a challenge match of $25,000 that kicks in after the nonprofit reaches its first $25,000 in sponsorships.

“Everything after that they will match dollar for dollar for an additional $25,000,” Glick said. “Pony up and help us reach our goal. First, we need to hit $25,000 then the challenge match kicks in. You can bet more than once and encourage your friends to bet, too.”

Weekly raffle prizes go to sponsors of the lead horses in the race each week, and include jewelry, ski passes, ski rentals, outdoor gear and equine services. The winning horse each week will get a “spa day” that includes a bath, bodywork and fancy hoof work (new shoes).

The Swiftsure Derby culminates on Aug. 27 at the virtual Cowboy Ball, which typically raises up to $400,000 for the nonprofit’s yearly programming. At that time all of the donors who sponsored the winning horse will be entered into a special drawing for their choice of one Sun Valley Challenger Season Ski Pass or a round of golf at Sun Valley’s Trail Creek or White Cloud golf courses for 4 including two golf cards.

The virtual Cowboy Ball participants will get $50 in take-out meals and be invited to “dance like no one is looking.”

To learn more, go to swiftsureranch.org.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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