In our village, no event ends before we hold a raffle. I dread the day we run out of raffle books, because we’ll be trapped together at the end of some play or tabletop sale, waiting not for Godot but for more raffle tickets.
The tickets cost a pound for a strip of five. It’s as predictable as if it were governed by law, which it may well be. It’s one way to raise money, and it works if all you need to do is cover the cost of renting the hall or raise a bit of money for the local hospice or the Air Ambulance, because a thousand other villages are also raising money for them and it all adds up.
But this post is about a local fundraising effort that’s going to take more than a raffle, and if you’ll forgive me I’m going to abandon my usual wise-ass tone.
Emily Skerrett is a local disabled paradressage rider who has a good chance of making it onto the British Paralympic team. I didn’t know what paradressage was until I started working on with this, so I’ll explain: Dressage is a kind of horseback riding that doesn’t involve flying over hedges or doing anything insane like that, so it’s kind to a disabled rider, which explains the para part.
Now set aside your assumptions about the piles money people who are drawn to horsey sports must have, because she’s not a rich woman, and so a group of us from the village have come together to form Team Emily and raise enough money to keep her going until she reaches national level, at which point funding will become available.
The village is like that. Not always, but sometimes. And sometimes, in this battered old world of ours, isn’t a bad track record. It’s enough to give me a spark of hope for this human race we all belong to.
A bit of background: Emily has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which used to be called hypermobility syndrome. It means her joints are so loosely held together that she can dislocate a shoulder just by rolling over in bed. She lives with a level of pain that would drive me to despair, and to cover any distance she uses either crutches or a wheelchair. She has two young sons and she loves them but can’t carry them any distance. Oddly enough, on the days she rides she can lower her usual dose of painkillers. Riding is, both physically and emotionally, good for her. And she’s good at it. Clive Milkins, who’s a Fellow of Riding for the Disabled and a world-class trainer with multiple gold medals at European and World levels, said, “Emily and her horse have . . . the ability, the potential and the determination to reach the very top.”
In part, of course, she’s wants to make the team because she loves the sport and because it would be good for her as an individual, but in part she’s doing it to demonstrate that being disabled doesn’t mean being unable, and to show her sons that, although their mother can’t do many of the things other mothers can, there are things she can do.
Team Emily is trying to raise £10,000 through crowdfunding. We need small donations. We need large donations. We need help from people who can’t make any donation at all. We need people like you to paste a link to her crowdfunding site (or to this post) on Facebook, or to tweet the link, or to email it to friends, or to pass it on in any other way you can think of. This is one small human being fighting the limitations that illness has imposed on her life, and it’s inspiring. If you can help in any way, you have our thanks.
And let’s be honest: It’s the closest most of us will ever come to the Olympics, para- or otherwise.
And now I’m going to be obnoxious and put the links in one more time.