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Author: 10 June 2017 No Comment

Potomac Valley Dressage Association’s Ride For Life Event Returns for the 14th Year (Support Breast Cancer Treatment & Care).  By Jeannette Bair, PVDA Ride for Life Rider Donations Chair

If you are looking for a fun weekend, have any interest in horses or would like to lend your support for breast cancer research, education and patient’s quality of life care, come be part of our 14th Annual PVDA Ride for LifeTM, this summer. Be part of an event where the rider’s and show participants share their passion for horses with their passion of supporting the fight against Breast Cancer.

Ride for Life is a two day United States Dressage Federation (USDF) recognized dressage show, held on June 24 to 25, 2017 at the Prince Georges Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, which benefits the renowned Johns Hopkins Breast Center in Baltimore.

This unique fundraiser will feature boutique shopping, raffles, two days of Dressage and many more opportunities for family fun .

Our theme this year, Unity, (Add picture of the logo) is to commemorate the Unity that this show embodies. Unity between PVDA and Johns Hopkins, Unity between horse and rider, Unity between Sponsors, PVDA and Donors to make the show happen and thus the good work at Johns Hopkins. Unity between the Dressage community and community at large – It takes all of us to make a difference.

The Event

Attracting hundreds of visitors throughout the course of the weekend, this unique fundraiser and horse show supports the Johns Hopkins Breast Center through donations, sponsorships, vendor contributions, and raffle proceeds. Activities are open to the public and are free. Saturday afternoon will be the highlight of the weekend with musical freestyles of all riding levels being held in the indoor arena. Musical freestyles in dressage present an amazing combination of technicality and artistry in a choreographed display of training between horse and rider.
“Dressage” is from the French word “dresseur” which means to train. Graduated levels of accomplishment, from the most basic walk/trot to the Grand Prix test are seen. The tests are divided into separate movements, and the judge gives a score for each movement. The tests may also be ridden to music, which is where the real magic begins. In dressage, the goal is to communicate quietly and effectively which your horse so that the movement is seamless and is dancelike. Horse and rider become a well-honed team.
From 3 to 5 P:M on Saturday, the special fundraiser of Exhibition Musical Freestyles will be held, where riders or groups of riders compete against each other to raise money for JHU. Donations are made by the audience who choose their favorite ride as a “People’s Choice”. Each dollar represents a vote. Expect to see horses and riders in costuming which will emulate the music to which they will ride.
Overall the PVDA Ride for Life spans many demographics including the equestrian community and families and people of all ages who appreciate a unique venue for a benefit event, those who want a way to support breast cancer research and patient care and those who want to watch beautiful animals perform with their human partners. Many of the riders in the show are themselves Breast Cancer survivors.

If you cannot attend in person but would still like to support this PVDA benefit you can make a donation on www.pvdarideforlife.org. One hundred percent of all donations go directly to Johns Hopkins.

14 years ago, breast cancer survivor Patricia Artimovich found that her belief in the healing power of horses gave her support, strength and hope through her battle and recovery. Having found this through her association with horses she wanted to open that avenue to others and involve the dressage community.

Pat recommended to the Potomac Valley Dressage Association, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization, that they dedicate one of its one day dressage shows and its proceeds to the Johns Hopkins Breast Center where she had received phenomenal care and treatment. Since its inception in 2004, the annual PVDA Ride for Life has grown to a full weekend event and raised over $715,000 for Breast Cancer education, quality of care, outreach to underserved communities and in the improvement of lives of those afflicted. (Picture of Pat)
Through this event many people have come forward to share their story, ride their horses in victory of their survival and to cloak themselves with this community of support and to avail themselves of and be a part of this Unity.

Making a Difference

The PVDA serves to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer and the initiatives to support quality of life of afflicted individuals through education and individualized care and inclusion of family members in their treatment process and aftercare.

Quality of Life Research

Quality of Life Research is an underfunded area within the needs of breast cancer patients during and after their treatment protocols. Ride for Life funds have made a difference by supporting the provision of a survivorship care program. The supply and demand for oncology specialists will fall short of the number of diagnosed patients by 41 to 48 percent by year 2020. Doctors are not able to follow the long term care of cancer patients. Ride for Life supports studies about long-term issues that breast cancer survivors face in order to develop ways to reduce these side effects (i.e. menopausal symptoms from chemo treatment and hormonal therapy, peripheral neuropathy, lymphedema, and psychological issues). RN’s, PCP’s and GYN’s are receiving education so that they can support these long-term needs. Additionally patients who have metastatic disease and will lose their lives are also being supported to ensure that their wishes are known and their quality of life is preserved as long as possible.

Patient Retreats

Ride for Life has helped fund retreats for patients battling metastatic disease and their families. These 2 1/2 day 2 night events are specifically designed for end-of-life patients with stage IV disease and their spouses/partners and are provided free at the Bon Secours Spiritual Center. These retreats provide support for spouses left to raise children alone, work to ensure that the patients wishes are known, and teach a patient how to come to closure with her family, friends and herself as she approaches end of life.

People who attend the retreats “come broken, angry, lost and leave with a sense of peace and feeling of purpose in their life, despite it being cut short” said Lillie Shockney, administrative director for the Johns Hopkins Breast Center. Past funds from the Ride for Life covered a portion of the costs to create a documentary of the couple’s retreat to inspire other cancer centers tor create similar programs within their own communities. Lillie Shockney pleads, “Women have the right to die with dignity, get closure with their family, make a plan for their children and have support for their spouses to endure what they must witness.”

Ride for Life funds also support a second retreat for women with metastatic disease and a female caregiver and/or partner The timeframe for the retreat is the same but the content is adjusted to recognize the special bond that women have with one another as the patient faces making end-of-life decisions.

Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowships

Ride for Life funds have been used to train a number of general surgeons who wanted to specialize exclusively in breast cancer surgery and treatment. Those funded are Dr. Anna Voltura who returned to New Mexico after her year fellowship and opened a breast center to treat underserved women, Dr. Eman Sbaity returned to Lebanon, where reconstructive surgery had never been done. The mortality rate due to breast cancer in the Middle East is 85 percent and most of these individuals are diagnosed in their 30’s and 40’s. Dr. Eman was able, among other things to provide women with a full silhouette after mastectomy. She is also a trained “train the trainer” to teach others the methods she has learned through her fellowship at Johns Hopkins. Additonally trained was Dr. Rosemary Hardin who uniquely focused a portion of her training on gaining an intimate understanding of the psychological needs of patients and their families. She chose West Virginia to apply her newly acquired skills to support newly diagnosed patients, including impoverished women. Also trained was Roberta Lilly who took her training to the eastern shore of Maryland and the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Center where she brings her new training to another area that is under-served. The latest fellowship recipient trained at the JHU Breast Center is Maureen O’Donnell who chose to leave a lucrative private practice to take advantage of the fellowship learning opportunities and has chosen to apply those skills at the Sullivan Breast Center at Sibley Hospital supporting the DC region. Dr. O’Donnell has become a known spokesperson for the Fellowship program and for the critical need for those skills obtained through this opportunity. Dr. O’Donnell states in a video in which she is featured (full video can be seen on the Ride for Life website at www.pvdarideforlife.org) “Many academic fellowships have had to be eliminated because of lack of funding but through the support of PVDA the oncology fellowship at Hopkins will continue to thrive. “

Did you Know?

In 2016, 302,130 women and 2350 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. The projection for 2017 is 320,000.
Among the 302,130 women diagnosed with breast cancer, 60,000 women were diagnosed with DCIS, stage 0 breast cancer. This type of breast cancer, is the earliest stage of breast cancer and can only be found with a mammogram.
40,290 breast cancer patients died of breast cancer in 2016.
Every 2.2 minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Every 10 minutes someone dies in the United States of breast cancer.
70% of individuals diagnosed have NO known risk factors that predispose them to getting breast cancer.
23% of women diagnosed are under age 50.
The average age of diagnosis in the United States is 53.
The incidence of breast cancer continues to climb, with Baby Boomers being the primary group being diagnosed currently.
Only 12% of those diagnosed have any family history of breast cancer.
6-10% of individuals diagnosed carry a breast cancer gene as the cause of their disease.
There is an 85% survival rate overall in the United States.
More than 3 million Americans are alive who have had this disease.
80% of women diagnosed are candidates for lumpectomy and do not have to lose their breasts.

Lillie Shockney, Administrator of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center and two time breast cancer survivor remarks,

“I am excited about the 14th annual PVDA Ride for Life. Our hope is that this year’s event will provide us the contingent funding needed to maintain our Surgical Society of Oncology accredited fellowship so that we can train another eager surgeon to become a stellar breast surgical oncologist. This enables more breast cancer patients to receive the state of the art care they deserve by grooming another surgeon to be a breast center leader who can teach other surgeons how to deliver patient centered care, whether in a big city or rural locations where underserved patients need support. Thank you to PVDA for being passionate as I am about supporting this one year comprehensive training curriculum.”

Jeannette Bair, PVDA 2017 Donation chair; Ride for Life Dancing Horse Challenge/Gala Visionary, Past RFL Co-chair and Sponsorship Chair states:

“I began riding as an adult and never looked back. I immediately had a passion for horses and riding. I particularly love the technicality of the sport as well as the artistry. Having bred over the years 34 horses, I have had the pleasure to bring up some babies for my own riding partners and I had the opportunity to learn about Unity through the relationship.

I have a similar passion for the work done at the Johns Hopkins Breast Center and have been privileged to be part of this event from its inception. I am proud to be a member of PVDA due to their commitment to this important fundraising effort and to be just one of the many volunteers that are essential to make this event happen. Without the volunteers we would not be able to make this happen.”

Marcia Mia, PVDA 2017 Ride for Life Chair joined the RFL team in 2016. Marcia describes what being a part of the Ride for Life team has meant to her:

While I have been involved in PVDA shows in the past, both as a competitor and volunteer, I had never taken on as large a task as the annual PVDA Ride for Life. Originally I was overwhelmed, but after meeting with the dedicated folks at JH Breast Center, including Lillie, Maureen and Dr Euhus, I immediately felt like part of a larger family with a common goal. Along with Pat’s enthusiasm and Jeannette’s experience with prior years’, I soon realized that the UNITY that this team brings makes anything possible.

It has been my honor to return for a second year and I know that we will make 2017 Ride for the Life the best one yet!