The moment he saw Laura Steenrod’s Facebook post, Jimmy Torano knew he had to help. It was 1 a.m.; he’d gotten up for a glass of water and just happened to check Facebook on his way back to bed.
Steenrod, a trainer out of Jackson, Michigan, had put out a request to grand prix riders competing at the Kentucky Summer Shows from July 24-Aug. 4. On Nov. 15, 2018, one of her students, 17-year-old Hannah Glair, hit a patch of black ice while driving home, lost control and was killed in the accident. Glair had dreamed of one day riding in the Rolex Stadium but never got the chance. Would someone be willing to carry some of her ashes while competing in the grand prix?
“It took me about a second to say I’ll do it,” said Torano. “It just hit me. Immediately when I saw it I was thinking I could talk to management and see if I could stay in the ring for an extra minute and gallop around for Hannah.”
The idea came about after Glair’s parents, Julie and Mike Glair, of Munith, Michigan, began reading some of her journals. Though Hannah had never competed at the Kentucky Horse Park, she was a frequent visitor and wrote of how one of her favorite things was sitting in the Rolex Stadium and watching the horses compete. The Glairs wanted to honor their daughter by spreading her ashes at some of her favorite places, so they approached Steenrod about bringing a piece of Hannah to Kentucky.
“I asked, ‘What did she see herself doing?’ ” Steenrod said. “She knew she might not be a grand prix rider, but she wrote she would love to get to go around the ring someday. I said, ‘Let me make a few inquiries,’ and with their permission see if we could not just get her ashes down there, but see if we could get her a ride.”
Steenrod made a few private inquiries but didn’t have any luck, so she made a public Facebook post on May 9. Torano, who doesn’t know Steenrod or Hannah, saw the post when Caroline Moran shared it, and he was the first to offer Hannah a ride.
“Many people said, ‘Let me check with somebody,’ ” Steenrod said. “Jimmy was the first one of anyone to step in and claim it. I woke up this morning, and I read [his comment], and I burst into tears.”
“I’m glad and happy I can help,” Torano said. “I don’t know her; I don’t know the family. I think they’re coming, and I’ll get to meet them. I think it’ll be a touching, emotional night, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Steenrod said Hannah had a remarkable dedication to horses that went far beyond the love of the sport.
“[I can’t believe] how incredible the horse industry has been—the number of shares and comments and subsequent offers that people would be willing to do the same thing,” Steenrod said. “I think that Hannah was one of those kids who reminded me that the horses were the thing of dreams. I have no doubt she’ll make an appearance.”