Spirit of Loma horsewoman lives on with Ridin’ for a Cure
Jerrie Farmer’s legacy is riding high this spring, spurred on by an organization put together by her friends and family — Ridin’ for a Cure.
Farmer, a Loma resident and lifelong horsewoman, died in November at the age of 39, after a five-year struggle with breast cancer. She is survived by two teenage daughters: Justyne and Jordan Hamm; husband Jake Hamm; parents Johnnie and Jim Farmer, a sister, Jackie Gardner and friends like Patti Heinz and Tracy Jackson.
In addition to her friends and family, she is survived by Ridin’ for a Cure. The organization grew out of an effort — a benefit dinner, raffle and silent auction — last October aimed at raising money to help Jerrie Farmer and her family cover some of their rising costs and meet living expenses.
When Farmer died in November, the group that put together the benefit and raised the money wanted to keep that effort alive. So Ridin’ for a Cure continues to raise money, and plans to use it to assist others in need as they suffer through the pain and problems of breast cancer. One doesn’t have to be a horse person to be the beneficiary Ridin’ for the Cure’s assistance. But you should know that Jerrie Farmer definitely was.
“Oh yeah, she was a horsewoman,” her mother, Johnnie recalled last week. “She was in 4-H” as a youngster, showing and riding horses. She served a year as queen for the Standard Quarter Horse Association in Colorado. And until she was no longer able, she “loved to trail ride.” She also passed her love of horses on to her daughters.
In addition, she was also a dog lover who, like her mother, groomed and trained dogs. They started a business called The Pet Spa together. Later, she did pet grooming at her house.
As her cancer worsened, her friends wanted to do something to help.
“One day, I stepped into All Around Feed and Supply (where Heinz is the manager) and Patti asked me if Jerrie would be up for a benefit,” Jim Farmer recalled. He said he thought she would, and things started rolling.
Heinz and Jackson are both horsewomen who knew Jerrie Farmer in part because of her involvement with horses and dogs, as well as through the schools and the closeknit community in the west end of the valley. But they shared something else with her. Heinz and Jackson are both breast-cancer survivors.
“So this had a special meaning for us,” Heinz said.
Together, they purchased a saddle they hoped to raffle off to raise money for Farmer and her family. They began planning a benefit dinner for Oct. 28 at The Feedlot Restaurant in Fruita that included the raffle, a silent auction and a donation jar. Before they knew it, silent-auction items began piling up at All Around Feed, and Heiz had to continually seek more space to display the items. In the middle of the process, the business sold, but Heinz remained as manager and new owners Jim and Jill Berthod generously allowed the continued display of the silent-auction items, and supported the benefit effort.
The anticipated attendance at the dinner ballooned to 300 people. People even showed up on the day of the benefit, not knowing anything was going on, but joined anyway and donated to the cause.
Johnnie said the process also made her understand how many people have been affected by breast cancer. “Until this, I didn’t realize how many other cancer victims there were. People were continually coming up to me and saying ‘My sister, or my mother or my friend had breast cancer” and they would write a check,” she recalled.
Heinz said she initially hoped they would be able to raise $5,000. Jackson told her they should aim higher, for $10,000. They actually raised more than $15,000, after covering their expenses.
Even though Jerrie was too ill to attend her own benefit, Heinz said she and Jackson always thought she would overcome the cancer. “We didn’t realize how sick she really was,” Heinz said.
After her death, and because of the success the group had in raising money through the benefit, they decided to continue Ridin’ for a Cure. The founding members, including Jerrie’s parents, made the appropriate legal and tax filings so that Ridin’ for a Cure is a legitimate nonprofit organization.
But what comes next is “what we’re trying to figure out,” Heinz said.
The core group will be present at the Horse Expo, sponsored by the Colorado West Paint Horse Club set for March 23-24 at Mesa County Fairgrounds. They’ll be wearing brown hoodie sweatshirts or baseball caps, with pink “Ridin’ for a Cure” lettering. They’ll also be selling those items and accepting donations.
They also hope to stage a trail ride, a gymkhana, a rodeo or other events as fundraisers. And they are still developing the criteria they will use to choose people to assist with the money the organization raises.
But they are certain of one thing: the need to keep Ridin’ for a Cure going to honor a special woman.
Those interested in contributing to Ridin’ for a Cure can contact Johnnie Farmer at 241-8499 or Patti Heinz at All Around Feed and Supply, 858-1880.
A bank account for the group has been established at Alpine Bank of Fruita.