When Adrienne Sternlicht, Lucy Deslauriers, Paige Bellissimo and Chronicle staff writer Tori Repole co-founded the Equestrian Cooperative nonprofit organization last July, their aim was to engage equestrians in social activism and foster a more diverse and inclusive space within the industry. “It has never been more timely to impact the communities we inhabit positively,” said Repole.
In their first major initiative, the Equestrian Cooperative partnered with the Great Charity Challenge to set a goal of dissolving the medical debt of roughly 1,200 people in Palm Beach County, which encompasses Wellington, Florida.
Florida is one of the largest hotspots of medical debt in the United States, and people are routinely faced with the choice of meeting their basic needs or trying to pay off crippling amounts of debt. “Through this fundraiser, we are not only providing financial relief for people like single parents and military veterans, but also connecting equestrians with an opportunity to band together and foster change,” said Repole.
Through RIP Medical Debt, which buys medical debt at pennies on the dollar, the Equestrian Cooperative set a $34,000 goal to eradicate about $5 million of medical debt at approximately $1.50 to the penny. Since launching the fundraiser on Feb. 6, they’ve raised over $20,000, which correlates to about $3 million in medical debt relief.
“The fundraiser, which ends on Feb. 20, is about what we as an industry can accomplish when we set a goal,” said Repole.
Any donation of $50 or more will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win prizes sponsored by EquiFit, Erin Gilmore Photography, Fratelli Fabbri, Ashley Neuhof Photography, Horse Pilot and artist Meghan Bacso.
Donations are accepted online, and riders competing at WEF can also pick up an Equestrian Cooperative armband at the Fratelli Fabbri booth in Vendor Row to show support for the fundraiser. (The $50 purchase will enter them into the raffle giveaway, with all proceeds going to the fundraiser.)
“We look forward to you joining us on this journey of social activism,” said Repole. “By working together, we can alleviate the financial burdens of those with whom we share our community.”