published: Friday, November 02, 2012
Riding for a cure
ROXANNE BROWN | Staff Report
Lt. Steve Smith of the Groveland Fire Department did not know quite what to think when he peeked outside and noticed two horse-drawn buggies pulling into the firehouse last week.
He was pleasantly surprised to find out the four men, three horses and two wagons were "Riding for a Cure" -- part of a 200-mile Relay for Life team trek to raise money and awareness for cancer.
"We sell shirts to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, so we can relate. But these guys, they are doing more than what we could do. They're doing something amazing," Smith said.
The group, led by Clinton Yates, 20, with his horse Lollipop, also includes his father Calvin Yates, 62, Joe Matthews, 62, and his horse Butterscotch, and Jimmy Canon, 69, and his horse Junior. They started their journey on Oct. 19 in O'Brien, a city in Florida near Live Oaks.
Their plan: To ride 200 miles in order to raise money and awareness for cancer, with all proceeds going 100 percent (split equally) to the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, two national cancer awareness not for profit organizations.
As of Wednesday afternoon when they stopped in Groveland, they'd collected about $200 from on-the-road donations since their start, and are waiting to see how much people have donated online toward their cause.
And while the journey has not been fast or easy, Yates said "it's been worth it," especially considering that he's doing it in remembrance of his great-grandfather who died of colon cancer and a family friend who died of lung cancer.
"I'm making this trip to try and make at least a small difference in some way," Clinton Yates said.
Clinton's mother, Suzette Yates, on Thursday joined her family in Four Corners to escort them by car for the remainder of their journey she said she's proud of her son and his purpose.
"I'm just a proud momma. He's doing this and I think it's important because it's amazing the amount of people battling cancer in one way or another. Cancer touches so many families everywhere," She said.
Clinton Yates said even though some people have honked their horns at them while traveling down the highway because of their he knows what they are doing is worthwhile based on the reactions of others they've encountered.
"A lady stopped on the street near us and caught up with us to say thank you for what we are doing. She said her daughter had cancer and therefore, she was appreciative of our efforts," he said.
Other rewards, such as spotting a deer jumping a fence into the woods, riding peacefully through the countryside and sleeping under the stars, are memories some in the group mentioned, too.
Smith and the other firefighters were glad to accommodate the group, allowing them use of the fire station's showers -- none of the travelers had had a shower for about one week -- and lent a helping hand with their laundry.
And instead of having to find a camping site in the woods, Smith and his chief allowed them to camp on the grass of the fire station's lot for the night.
In fact, Smith said they treated the guys to a few surprises, like any other rookie firefighter may have been treated the very first time in the showers, by cutting the water and lights off midway and requesting a quarter to continue.
Smith said the firefighters talked with the group for a while about mutual efforts and interest in raising money for cancer awareness and then, before retiring for the evening, made them honorary Groveland firefighters with department T-shirts to take with them.
Smith even secured their next "pit-stop" for Thursday night upon their arrival near Four Corners, at the Lake County fire station there.
"It's been fun and we sure do thank them so much for their hospitality," Calvin Yates said.
Bright and early Thursday morning, the group said goodbye to the firefighters they'd befriended and got back on the road towards the end of their journey, which is to culminate in St. Cloud at 1 p.m. Sunday at the St. Cloud Lakefront Park.
There the American Cancer Society and St. Cloud Relay For LIfe is expecting hundreds of people to welcome them.
The St. Cloud mounted police is planning to escort them as soon as they arrive and the mayor will be awarding Clinton with a plaque for his and his team's effort.
To learn more about the group's journey, look them up on Facebook under www.facebook.com/ridingforacuree.
To donate, visit www.passionatelypink.org, click on "donate" and use team ID number 13565620 or team captain name of Clinton Yates as a reference.