Saddle Up volunteer corrals funds for St. Jude

St. Jude volunteer Faith Fulbright

Faith Fulbright has been riding horses for St. Jude
since she was 6 years old. Of the more than $51,000
raised by her family's Saddle Up events, Faith has
personally raised $17,000 for St. Jude.

A little Faith can help

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has been on Faith Fulbright’s mind since she was 6 years old. That’s more than one-third of the 10-year-old’s life.

It was just a few days after she had turned 6 that Faith participated in her very first Saddle Up for St. JudeTM, an event where participants ride horses on a 10-mile trail and raise sponsorship money that goes to St. Jude. She raised about $175 in pledges that year. Since then, Faith has been more and more determined to raise funds for the hospital’s work. The Fulbrights assist friend Niki Busque in coordinating the Saddle Up event.

“Everyone we know, knows how we feel about St. Jude,” says Faith’s mom, Karen. “When they see us coming toward them in the fall, they either get their wallet out, get their checkbook out or they better turn and go the other direction because they know we are going to hit them up.” For the 2002 Saddle Up in Faith’s hometown of Hickory, North Carolina, Faith raised approximately $5,800. The national average for Saddle Up events is $1,724.

“I like to help out in a big way,” Faith says. “It’s something that’s fun to do and it’s for a good cause and I enjoy doing it.”

Her brother does too. Lane, 6, has raised $1,100 for the hospital.

Trail of success

Faith begins her fund raising every year in August, searching for sponsors that will help her raise even more money to help the children at the hospital. She has a little speech that she has worked up that she gives when she asks someone for sponsorship.

As more and more riders showed up and the event grew larger and larger, the Fulbrights opted this past year to do an invitation-only ride, with 56 invitees jumping in the saddle for St. Jude and raising $14,000 — only $4,000 less that 189 riders combined to raise in 2001.

Faith says that when she began her work for St. Jude, she wasn’t fully aware of what St. Jude did. She had just turned 6 after all. “ I wasn’t really understanding it then,” Faith says. “Now the whole thing is like a puzzle that I’ve just figured out.”

Karen says Faith, who finished her last school year with straight A’s, studies St. Jude information. She intently watches the one-hour television show that St. Jude produces and is aired around the country; she gets on the Internet and researches some of the diseases like Wilms tumor and neuroblastoma.

The beach vs. St. Jude

Faith loves helping St. Jude so much that in 2001, when she and her family were planning a vacation of sitting on the beach and playing in the surf, Faith said, “Let’s cancel that and go to St. Jude. We’ll go to the beach later.”

The family did just that.

During that visit, Faith saw the Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion, a museum of the achievements of Danny Thomas and ALSAC. Faith was struck by the numerous awards and keys to so many different cities that Danny had been given.

“That was amazing, how many awards he’s won,” Faith says. “When I saw all those awards I about flipped. I didn’t even know that there were that many cities!”

Skipping the beach vacation that year to go to St. Jude was a great experience for Faith.

“It was really fun being able to go in there and learn about Danny Thomas and ALSAC and all that cool stuff,” Faith says. “You just felt like you were so close.”

In June 2003, Faith returned to the hospital for Volunteer Appreciation Day, a day when ALSAC thanks some of its volunteers who have played a key role in helping the organization continue its push to cure cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

Faith, of course, is already looking forward to her Saddle Up next year. “When you really stick your heart into something, it’s hard to get out of… and I don’t want to,” Faith says.

Danny would be proud.

Last update: June 2003