Wagon train to hit the trail for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

By Greg Miller
star staff

  Wagons Ho!
  A wagon train with the goal of raising funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will hit the trail Sept. 25-26.
  Ann VanHuss and her daughter, June Hughes, are coordinating the event.
  "This is our fifth annual wagon train for St. Jude," VanHuss said.
  The wagon train will depart from Evening Breeze Arena, located on C. Grindstaff Road in the Blue Springs area. "On Saturday, we'll stop for lunch up at Weaver's store in the upper Blue Springs area, where Blue Springs joins Stoney Creek," VanHuss said. "You can buy your lunch there if you want to. We'll come back down by Volunteer Market, down through Danner Subdivision, through Possum Hollow and back down to the arena.
  "On Sunday, we'll go up above the Wilbur Dam to the back side of Watauga Dam. They have a grassy spot there where they let us take our horses in and stop and have lunch.
  "We recommend that you take coolers and put them in someone's wagon or put something to drink in your saddlebag. We usually get thirsty and want to snack on the way."
  Children play a big role in the success of the event. "They take sponsor sheets and go out to the merchants and go out to their friends and get them to sponsor them per mile on the train, or make a straight out donation," VanHuss said.
  "They have a little contest, and whoever brings in the most money gets special prizes. Anybody that brings in as much as a dollar gets a prize. We have patches from St. Jude, T-shirts, sweatshirts, sports bags and caps. On top of that, we have prizes donated by the merchants to give to the participants." All competitors receive a prize.
  "Anybody wanting to make donations can donate to us along the road, or they can bring their donations to the arena on Friday night, Saturday night or Sunday," VanHuss said. "Or they can leave their donations at the feed stores that display the St. Jude poster.
  "Anybody that wants to come can come," VanHuss said. "If they don't have a horse, or can't bring their horse, they can call ahead and reserve a seat on a wagon. We'll ride them on the covered wagons and let them get their miles in.
  "If you have your own horse, you're welcome to bring them. We have a place for you to camp. If you have a horse that doesn't tie well, we have pens that you can put them in so they'll be safe.
  "We'll do games at the arena, and we'll have music on Saturday night. We'll have snacks when we come in on Saturday afternoon for the participants, and we may have a caterer there with food. If not, we have a restaurant close by or you can cook your own, just whatever you want to do. You will need to take you a snack for Sunday because there won't be a store to buy anything."
  The wagon train experience is "great," according to VanHuss. "We have a ball," she said. "You put a lot of people together that love horses and a lot of people that love them but are afraid of them. We camp out, and it's just a great time to talk with your neighbors about all the events that are going on and discuss your horses and discuss your friends, cook out, play games in the arena, listen to country bands. We just have a ball. We have a great time."
  Last year's wagon train raised about $2,500 for St. Jude's, according to VanHuss, who hopes this year's total is higher than the funds raised in 2003.
  "We'll keep collecting on through the next week after the wagon train, and we'll tally that up and send that in, too. The sooner we get it to St. Jude's, the sooner it starts helping them."
  Sign-up is at 9 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The wagon train will cover approximately 10 miles on Saturday and about 10 miles on Sunday. A concession stand will be open Saturday and Sunday, with all proceeds going to St. Jude's.
  For more information, call 474-2344.