By Valerie Baldowski
A local 4-H club hopes to raise more than $2,000 through a horse raffle.
On Dec. 15, Willowick Morgan Farms in McDonough will raffle off a 2-year-old, registered, chestnut Morgan filly named "Ultra Special Impression," according to Heather Dunning, 4-H Youth and Development agent for the Henry County Extension Service.
Tickets are $5 each, and the horse's owner, Mary Brannon, said she will donate the proceeds from ticket sales to the Henry County 4-H Hoofbeats Horse Club.
Supporters working with the club were stunned at hearing of Brannon's intentions, said Sheila Wallace, 4-H Hoofbeats Horse Club volunteer leader.
"We were overwhelmed with gratitude that Mary was willing to offer this opportunity to our club," Wallace said. "To be able to win a registered Morgan horse was exciting to me personally. They are such beautiful and graceful horses in motion, and intelligent horses."
The drawing will be held at Willowick Morgan Farms, and there will be only one winner. The winner need not be present for the drawing, but will be responsible for picking up the horse by Dec. 18.
Wallace hopes enough money can be raised from the raffle to send club members to the statewide 4-H Horse Show in Perry, Ga., next June.
"Our goal is [to raise] as much as possible," Wallace said. "If we sell all of the tickets, it would be approximately $2,500. That would be wonderful."
In addition to sending the youths to the horse show, the money raised can also serve another purpose, said Brannon. "What we are trying to do is raise enough money to build a horse arena at Windy Hill Park," she said.
Brannon, whose farm cares for 37 Morgan horses, said the filly was a gift from a breeder in Ohio. The horse was given, rather than sold, because the economy made it difficult for the breeder to sell its animals.
"I have a friend who gave me this horse to raffle," Brannon said. "The economy has hit the horse industry like everywhere else."
Brannon said the young horse might make a special holiday present.
"It would be a great Christmas gift," she said. "Morgans are really great horses as far as their attitude. They really bond with people."
Wallace said Willowick Farms regularly partners with the Hoofbeats Horse Club, and supports the students' activities and projects.
"Mary is always willing to share her knowledge and love of horses with the kids, and the club is extremely lucky to have her working with us," Wallace said.
For ticket information, call (770) 914-8984 or (404) 392-0530.