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The Valley Line: Small but mighty auxiliary welcomes guests to Ahead with Horses benefit

It was a perfect "chamber of commerce" weather day at Brookside Golf Club, when the Foothill Auxiliary of Ahead with Horses held its 40th Chinese Auction and Luncheon on Friday, Feb. 23. The huge windows of the luncheon room looked out on the picture-perfect golf course and, in the distance, the San Gabriel Mountains.

Ahead with Horses, Inc., an organization that helps disabled children through therapeutic riding instructions, is celebrating its 50th year. The instructors have found that, through this special therapy, horses are the catalyst to miracles in the lives of many youngsters. It is through their compassionate work that children can reach beyond their disabilities and build a sense of comfort, companionship and responsibility. This unique relationship inspires magical results, leading to increased attention span, empathy and self-esteem. The program specializes in children who have severe and multiple disabilities and those who are not eligible for traditional therapy.

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The 12 active members of the auxiliary welcomed more than 120 guests to the luncheon. The room was festively decorated and at each table there was a little red box filled with chocolates and a little bottle of bubbles.

Carmi Vescelus, president of the group, greeted guests and introduced the chair of the event, Jean-Anne Hawley as well as the other active members of this group.

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Last year, this luncheon raised over $10,000 for Ahead with Horses. Members work all year long in preparation for the annual event. They haunt boutique shops and catalogs in order to gather items and gift certificates they can put together in beautifully wrapped gift baskets.

It is always a joyful day, with hoots of surprise when a number is drawn from a canister and called. The elaborately wrapped gift basket is then delivered to its winner. It is not unusual for a guest to win more than one basket.

The ladies of the auxiliary are an amazing group. Alma Barba, who just turned 100, is one of its most active members. Other members of the auxiliary include Marilyn Center, Joyce Davison, Barbara Dawson, Delores Dowdy, Betsy Mortimer, Earline Gulick, Bree Moseley, Leni Richardson, Judy Stewart and Linda Swanson.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at jnvalleysun@aol.com with news of your special event.

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