Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It's Refuge Farms Gala Time ! ! !

Preparations are in full swing. As in any major effort, there are lists of tasks to be completed and decisions to be made. There are lists on the desk. Lists on the bathroom mirror. Lists on the kitchen door. Lists in the truck. Lists in my wallet. And lists, lists, lists in my head! Whoever invented these sticky note papers is an angel, on one hand, because with those sticky pieces of paper I am able to keep my tasks in front of my face all day long. Like I said, this person is an angel on one hand. On the other hand . . . ?

This year's Gala is a very special Gala. It is our Tenth Anniversary Celebration. Mike Murach, a long-time Friend of THE FARM, has gifted us with his artwork again this year. In year's past, Mike has created originals of Miss April, Big Guy, and last year an enormous painting of Handsome. This year, Mike listened to me as I spoke of this journey of ten years. He watched me as I recalled the ups and downs. The highs and the lows. And out of that conversation and his brilliantly talented mind, came the anniversary logo which is called, "Out of the Shadows".

It is a wonderful piece of art that tells the story of rescue. The nearly dead horse on the ground complete with swollen and overgrown feet, pressure sores from having to lie on the ground, no mane or tail left to speak of, bones visible everywhere, and head just hanging. Mike listened well and created a portrait of a horse that had been starved, left behind, neglected, and abused. A horse just waiting . . .

Then, do you see the faint sunrise on the horizon? Do you see the swell of hope Mike created in that sunrise?

Above the sunrise is Mike's image of the rescued horse with its tail blowing in the wind, its head high in the air, a full and healthy body, and strong legs and feet! Do you see the rise from near death to being alive? Even in Mike's choice of colors he portrays the act of rescue.

And, true to his form, Mike has donated print #1 of 1 of this piece to be auctioned at The Gala. There will only be one print made of this artwork. Only one. And it will sell the night of our Gala. As with the other prints Mike has created for us, we will never print the canvas again. "The file is closed", as Mike says.

Our invitations, our posters, our RSVP's, and even our tickets are graced with this logo. For this coming year, our letterhead and our business cards will also flaunt this logo in addition to our original logo. That original logo was, by the way, also created by Mike Murach from a favorite pictureof mine. DukeDuke and Jimmer enjoying the sun on a crisp fall day from the doorway of the Old Barn. So you see, there is history here between Mike and Refuge Farms. And history, my friends, is a good thing.

The Gala evening will be one filled with horses! Refuge Farms is bring seven of The Sanctuary Herd with us for the event. We are bringing . . .

And yes . . .

. . . even Little Gracie.

Throughout the evening, select horses will be brought out of the corral area and into a smaller corral right on the floor of the event. (Wait until you see who is leading the horses! Surprise!) There we will tell the story of that horse - its past, its recovery, and its contribution to our Missions. I'm eager to see the faces of our guests as they realize just how huge Handsome is as he walks by them! And to hear the sounds of adoration as little Gracie walks amongst them! It will be a grand evening of horse stories and hands on. I really can hardly wait!

As you hear the horse stories and browse the silent auction tables, you will be served complimentary appetizers and a bar will be available for complimentary beers and wines. This is the time to catch up with old friends and to make new friends. I find this part of the evening almost like a holiday. You connect with people who share your passion for horses and the rescue of them. It is a very comfortable feeling in that big arena to be surrounded by those who are like yourself. It's like have a family that is two hundred strong!

Unless there is a medical emergency, the University of Minnesota has agreed to again lead tours through the medical center. I remember watching people last year return from a tour only to turn and get in line to go on the very next tour. This is quite a facility and if you have never been there, you will be amazed at the talent and the technology available to us! We are certainly fortunate to be so close to the U of M Equine Center. Our horses are very fortunate, indeed.

Our silent auction begins when the doors open at 6pm. Grand items to auction this year! We have a tenor wind chime that I honestly can barely lift! It is enormous and gives a sound like a pipe organ. We have beauty baskets and food baskets of all kinds. We have a night at the movies and even a trip to New York - complete with a two night stay at a famous Central Park hotel and tickets to The Oz and the famous bus tour of The City! There are wines to select from and oh yes, we must not forget the exotic beers! Of course, there are chocolates and coffees. Dog beds and cat beds. A new complete saddle and even a custom 5' x 8' area rug! baskets from Door County and Wisconsin. Horse themed baskets and baskets of home appliances. Sherri has donated a glass vase on which she has etched an image of a horse running in the wind. An awesome piece. There are sterling silver necklaces and artwork. Some of the best photographers are submitting some of their best artwork. Truly, this is our best silent auction yet!

At 7:30pm, our friends from the Zuhrah Shrine Horse Patrol will assemble us for dinner and a presentation of the flag. I am honored to have these talented men among us and, in their support of us, they are bringing their horses in full dress to gather us for dinner. These horses are precision horses and their riders are adorned in full costume. It is quite a site! If you have never witnessed the flag presentation by the Zuhrah's, then you won't want to miss it, for sure!!! Thank you, gentlemen!

Dinner will be excellent! White linen tablecloths, linen napkins, butter pats in the shape of little leaves, and primo service! Your entree is a choice of pecan Crusted Walleye, a Chateau Cut Top Sirloin Steak, or a Vegetarian Portobello Stuffed Mushroom. You will be given time to eat and chat with your table and then I will speak with you about "The First Ten Years." My message will focus on our Missions and two examples of what it is that we do: Dude and Laddee, the Little Belgian Mare. The rescue horse and the sanctuary horse. They tell you what we do.

And what have we done in ten years? How many tons of manure have been picked and wheelbarrowed out of the big barn? How many pounds of hay have been consumed by the horses? How many human beings have walked down the gravel driveway at THE FARM? And how many lives have been rescued? I'll be sure to tell you, that's for sure.

Rest assured, I'm working on my message to be concise, but know my heart is full. It has been a journey of ten years. Hundreds of people. And hundreds of lives. And yes, in my message to you there will be surprises! I would love to share them - or even a hint of them! - with you, but I cannot. A surprise is a surprise, after all!
But I guarantee you, you will nod your understanding and clap with joy and celebration!

At the close of my message we will play a video that has been carefully constructed to reflect our work of these past ten years. Carefully constructed from hundreds and hundreds of photos. Presented to songs selected especially for this video. Songs that tell the stories right along with the photos. There is a feeling of satisfaction, grief, and joy as I preview the video each day. Ten years is a short time and yet, ten years can be a very long time. When you see the video, you
will understand.

After dinner, there will be time for socializing and a few more horses to pet. The silent auction will close and we will hug for another year. And then next year, when we gather again, we will talk about the new numbers, the new challenges, and the new successes. We will gather again among people of like hearts and be grateful.

The Refuge Farms Fall Gala & Auction is meant to be a celebration. A celebration of rescuing those who otherwise would have been left to die. And it is that, yes. But it is also becoming a family reunion. It is fitting, don't you think, that in a horse arena transformed to a banquet hall we gather to talk, to pet some horses, to eat, and to support one another.

Please join us. Ticket information may be found on our homepage - just look for this poster! We are a humble group of volunteers who believe in the sanctity of life. That working to save a life is a good and worthy effort. That each life is valuable and sacred. And that horses are somehow teachers to us humans. Teachers of patience and forgiveness and tolerance and trust. Teachers of order and respect and pure joy.

Join us, won't you? Meet some of our teachers. The volunteers who work hard all year long. Eat dinner with us! And be surprised at some of the things we have up our sleeves!!!

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Gala Herd

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