“You’ve got to write about this girl!” was the message from several people. Sophie Lang caught the attention of members of our discussion forums when a friend of hers posted about her efforts to fundraise to get from Oregon to the ASPCA Maclay Finals in Lexington, Ky.
Want to know more about Lang? She’s blogging for the Chronicle about her quest to get to the ASPCA Maclay Final.
Lang, 17, placed second in her Maclay regional, but she’s not from a family who can afford to book a plane ticket for her horse without blinking. Getting Lang and her mount, Paradigm, across the country would be a challenge for them. A family friend posted on the Chronicle discussion forums asking about possible grants for which they could apply. “Nobody deserves it more. She braids and paints jumps to help fund her showing, and her mom works for the shows on the side to fill in the gaps. She brought her horse along from dead green, never been to a horse show 6 year old to a polished hunter winning just about every accolade imaginable in our zone. I could go on and on but I’ll get to the point. She doesn’t have the money to go, but this kid is exactly what I want this sport to be,” wrote Katy George.
Forums members chimed in with ideas, including setting up a crowdsource page like GoFundMe, but the family didn’t feel comfortable doing that.
Instead, they’re fundraising the old fashioned way. Lang is teaching braiding clinics they’re calling “Braid For The Maclay.” Local professionals are donating portions of their fees to the cause. They’re planning a Halloween carnival at a local show, and there’s a used tack sale in the works. In addition, at a local show they sold armbands to riders, and any rider with an armband could have a chat with the judges after their division for feedback.
I was impressed by Lang’s initiative, and by the amazing support the community has shown her. So, I asked Lang to blog for the Chronicle and told her it would be a good place to promote her fundraising efforts.
She sent me her first draft of her first blog with zero mention of finances or fundraising. I had to send it back to her and tell her, “Please include something about what you’re having to do to make Finals happen!” So she added a paragraph.
Every day on Facebook I see links to GoFundMe pages for equestrians. They’re looking for funds for colic surgery, the purchase price for a horse, vet bills for an injury—even for a trip to Florida for the show season. At least twice a week, someone sends the Chronicle Facebook a request to share their crowdsourcing fundraiser.
Of course online and social media fundraising is an amazing thing and has helped with many a valid cause. But it seems to have become the default for some people, to the point of abandoning personal responsibility.
That’s why Lang’s story was so compelling. She didn’t take the “easy” way out of starting a website and watching money flow in. She’s come up with creative ways to earn that money and has been such a positive member of her local show community that they’re all willing to chip in and help her.
I’ll be covering the ASPCA Maclay Finals for the Chronicle, and I really hope to see Lang riding there. Time will tell whether she goes home to Oregon with a ribbon, but I think that no matter what she’s a real winner in our sport.