The word HOSPICE Used to Mean it was finally time to camp!

April 1, 2011

My Horse Scout

It used to be when I heard the word Hospice it meant spring was here.  That it was time to camp.  It was time to go party at Silver Creek Park in Allegan County at the big Cancer Ride . . . . . . how things change!

Since I was a little girl, I have wanted a horse with every bone in my body.  13 years ago I went on a church camp out at Double JJ Ranch and marveled at the horses, wanting so bad to go on the trail ride.  It was so expensive but we did it anyway.  I remember going down the trail and breathing in the smell of the horse.  To this day I wish I could bottle that smell.  Yeah there is always the smell of horse poop but if you nuzzle up against them, you smell heaven and freedom and you feel the wind blowing through your hair.  Even at 31 years old, that need for a  horse was still in my heart.  Some people are just born with the love of horses and I was one of them.

When we got done with the ride there was a lady with our church there mumbling to herself, “I cannot believe I just paid all that money when I have two at home of my own”.  That ladies name was Deb and she changed my life and the life of my family forever.  I told her I would do anything to own a horse and she said “you can come ride mine anytime”.  I swear I was instantly giddy, a 31 year old women with two little kids, and I still could feel my heart pounding.

I asked her if she was serious and she said “sure”!  My next thought was, I bet she lives a million miles away from me.  I took a deep breath and asked her where she lived.  “Right in Hudsonville” she said “but my horses are boarded out by 72nd and Tyler.”  Wholly cow, that is only like 2 miles away from where I live!

We exchanged numbers and so began my journey with horses.  Now the funny part of this story is my husband’s first words.  “I am not interested in this horse thing just so you know”.

I rode her son Heith’s horse. His name was Dakota a six year old bay and I was immediately in love.  Heith was getting older and motorcycles held far more interest than Dakota. Deb invited me to a campout shortly after that.  She referred to it as the “Cancer Ride”.    It was a three hour ride to raise money for Hospice.  It cost $20 to come on the ride and I will never ever forget it.

Boy with Saddle

My Son at Our First Cancer Ride

My son was very little at that time (picture at left) and he had to ride in the front of the saddle with me.  My daughter (who promptly also got bit by the horse bug) rode behind Deb’s husband on horse called Storm.  Not only was I on a three hour ride with my very not-used-to-saddles-butt but I had my son riding in my lap. I had the time of my life but had never been in so much pain in my life.  Every part of my body hurt when I got home from that weekend.  Especially the part my young son rode on.  I remember lying in bed telling my husband, “Do not touch me-everything hurts!”

Deb offered me a free lease on Dakota which meant he wasn’t mine but I could use him anytime I wanted, but had to pay for his board, ferrier fees, vet fees and all that went with owning a horse.  What you all need to understand is that usually boarding a horse costs about $300 a month.  That is just to have the horse stay there and doesn’t include vet, shots, grain, etc. . . .etc.

But God was definitely there because board at Mel’s was only $60 a month.  I could afford that!!!  I will never forget the first time I went out to Mel’s all by myself.  I got Dakota out and tied him up at the hitching post.  I was literally shaking as I brushed him out as Deb had taught me to do.  All of the sudden birds flew out of the tree, spooked him, he pulled the hitching post out of the ground and took off running through the trees.  Wholly crap I am going to kill Deb’s horse the first time I take it out!

In the back of my mind I remembered Deb telling me I had to be very firm and tell him “quit” when he was doing something naughty.  I had heard her say it a million times so I mustered up all I was and yelled, “QUIT” at the top of my lungs.  Dakota stopped mid step in the middle of the trees.  To this day I can still see the hitching post swinging back and forth hanging from his head.  I went and got him, took off the halter and put him back in the pasture.  It was hilarious!

Cancer Ride Gathering

Allegan CountyMI Cancer Ride 2010

Now that Dakota was mine to take care of, I would go out every other night to grain him.   Deb would grain him the other days.  My husband, you know the guy who “wasn’t interested in the horse thing”, started coming with me to feed.  Pretty soon he was calling to ask me if I could wait till he could get home to go feed.  Next was, “do you think there is a horse at Mel’s I could ride” and shortly after that was “I want my own horse”.  My husband had got bit by the horse bug.

{Benefit gathering last year-lots of goodies raffled off!}

That was thirteen years ago and we are horse people to the core now.  We still have Dakota or Cody as we call him.  He was my first horse, my husband’s first horse and the love of my daughter’s life.  She is 20 now and has had him since she was 9.  We now own our own place and we look at the horses out our back window.  We have a 3 horse living quarters camper and haul the horses all over.

We have been going to the Cancer Ride every year for the last 13 years but this year is different because now Hospice will be a part of our life at some point.  My step-dad Sam, the only Grandpa my kids knew for a long time,  was diagnosed with lung Cancer about 6 months ago.  He is terminal but doing remarkably well.  There will be no chemo and radiation will not kill it–it is too far advanced.  Right now we are living in the moment of the gift of time.  The ride this year is different and I want to raise money for Hospice because I love Sam.

Horse Drinking from Stream

Silver Creek Park-Watering Horse After 3 Hour Ride

It used to be when I heard the word Hospice it meant spring was here.  That it was time to camp.  It was time to go party at Silver Creek Park in Allegan County.  All those things are still true.  Spring is almost here but now it is also a celebration that right now the cancer isn’t growing.  It means Sam has had time to mend some fences with his daughter’s and to enjoy the time he has left!

So this year I would love to be the one who raises the most money for the 37th Annual Benefit Ride which benefits Wings of Hope Hospice, Silver Creek County Park, Camp Beechpoint, and Camp Kidwell.

If you could help me reach my goal I would be incredibly thankful and I know Wings of Hope will be able to help more people as they leave this life.  I know there are kids who would love to go to camp but can’t afford it and I know it will keep our parks open.

Click this link to dontate Donation Info Here

This benefit raised over $13,000 last year and there were 252 registered riders.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Tami Vrom If you need more information, you can check out the Allegan County Pleasure Riders Facebook page OR feel free to call me 616-209-8626 or email me

Tami (at)  I promise I will let you all know if I reached my goal and I will write a blog with pics and videos of the benefit.  Just seeing all the trailers lining the road is amazing!