JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Westside 4-H horse club honored a young girl's loss Saturday with a two hour long horse ride.
The Westside Wranglers partnered with Dreams Come True to host its annual Super Ride at the Diamond D. Ranch.
The ride benefited Dreams Come True, the First Coast's only locally based nonprofit organization dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of local children battling extreme sickness.
Volunteer Michele Greene said all the money donated, unless otherwise specified, go directly to the dreams of the children.
The ride was also in memory of Tessa Godwin, a 13-year-old girl who passed away from leukemia ten years ago in May. Tessa's dream was a miniature horse she named Tonka Toy. It was a firm reminder of many of her mom's memories.
"I think she wanted to bring it in my house and that's what she did," said Tessa's mother Cheryl McCreary. "So it was just something she could control totally by herself without a lot of adult help. She was very independent and after she got sick she knew she wanted something she could handle by herself."
Tessa's love for horses is the reason the Westside Wrangler's became interested in sponsoring the ride.
"We do it in her memory," said volunteer Michele Greene. "We saw how much joy that Tonka brought to her life so we wanted to continue that and give joy to other children through her memory."
In 2012, the horse club raised more than $14,000 for Dreams Come True. The club sponsors three or four dreams a year through its donations.
Former dreamer Charlie Burnett, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a nine-month-old, said he knows how important dreams are to children to take their mind away their illness.
"It affects them giving them kind of like a positive outlook on... cause everyday it's doing medicine, taking care of yourself, taking care of your body, trying to get through the illness or sickness but then a trip is kind of like well this is a bright light in the dark tunnel kind of," said Burnett. "It helps keep the kids motivated and positive."
This year, the Wranglers have gathered more than $12,000 and are still waiting for the final count from the silent auction and checks from local businesses.
In the past 29 years, more than 3,000 dreams have been fulfilled by Dreams Come True.
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