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Press Release


Virginia Horse Center trailer raffle

Gardy Bloemers

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Virginia Horse Center Receives $50,000 Gift from Trailer Raffle and Generous Supporter Gardy Bloemers

Written by: Emily Riden
Client: Virginia Horse Center Foundation
Release Date: 2015-12-11

Lexington, VA – Dec. 11, 2015 – When Donna Martin and the ‘VHC Equestriennes’ set out to raise money for the Virginia Horse Center through a trailer raffle, they knew that together they could ultimately fundraise at least $35,000 to go directly to the Horse Center. Now, thanks to all of their incredible hard work, a fortunate twist of fate and the great generosity of the raffle winner, it was announced Tuesday that $50,000 would be donated to the Virginia Horse Center as a result of the fundraising efforts.

Since February, Martin, of Blue Ridge Trailer Sales, and the VHC Equestriennes, a group of Virginia women dedicated to the equestrian sport and the future of the Horse Center, worked tirelessly to sell 500 raffle tickets – good toward the winner’s choice of a brand-new horse trailer or $15,000 cash.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, the winner was pulled in front of a group of spectators gathered at the Horse Center, and the name selected was none other than the Virginia Horse Center Foundation’s own Board Secretary, Gardy Bloemers.

While Bloemers could not be present at the raffle drawing, upon hearing that she had won, Bloemers made what she said was the only decision that she could imagine making: She accepted the cash in lieu of the horse trailer and immediately asked that all $15,000 of her winning be donated to the Horse Center – meaning that all $50,000 of the raffle proceeds went straight to the Virginia Horse Center.

“I initially bought 10 tickets myself, and I jokingly said, ‘if I win, I’ve got to give this money to the Horse Center. To me it was just an obvious thing,” Bloemers said. “I’m lucky to be in a position to be able to make that decision. I know right now it makes a big difference in being able to pay some bills for the Horse Center. I’m happy to be able to do it.”   

Bloemers, who works as a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch, is an avid equestrian and dressage rider herself and stepped up to help sell tickets alongside the VHC Equestriennes at Dressage at Lexington and the Region 1 USDF Championships.

“The whole thing gave us at the Horse Center the opportunity to engage with new people and re-engage with existing friends of the Horse Center,” Bloemers said. “I think that that was really valuable; it allowed us to have some really great conversations.”

Bloemers continued, “This raffle shows the dedication of some of our supporters and volunteers to put something like this together. It was really led by Donna Martin from Blue Ridge Trailers, but there was so much active support from all of the Equestriennes. Of course the raffle generated money, but it also generated a lot of awareness and allowed individuals to support the Horse Center.” 

Involved in the VHC Equestriennes are chairperson Henley Gabeau, Alisa Berry, Brooks Cushman, Ella Evers, Marynell Eyles, Kim Gall, Suzanne Heizer, Wendy Higginson, Sandy Lilly, Melissa Sager, Tracey Oliver- Smith, Erin Tobin and Donna Martin. The Virginia Horse Center is extremely grateful to each and every member of the group for their ongoing support.   

“The Virginia Horse Center is very blessed to have such wonderful friends like Gardy Bloemers and the Equestriennes,” said John Nicholson, CEO of the Horse Center. “Tuesday night was just a great night for the Horse Center; this raffle and the support of the people running it are just another reason why the future of the VHC continues to look so bright.”

The Virginia Horse Center also wishes to thank each and every ticket holder who purchased tickets from across all parts of the United States and among almost every discipline within the equestrian community. Each ticket purchased was a gift that goes a long way in helping the Horse Center achieve greater financial stability, while ultimately growing into one of the world’s leading equestrian facilities.

In order to continue to achieve success, the Virginia Horse Center needs your help. To learn more visit and consider making an online year-end gift to the Virginia Horse Center Foundation here


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