SUNNYSIDE — The Ninth annual Sort 4 the Cause drew 612 two-man ranch sorting teams over the course of the three-day event and raised a total of $72,000 to benefit three Lower Yakima Valley charities on June 14-16 at Specks Arena.

“The first year we raised about $15,000 and thought we were on top of the world,” Shellie Speck acknowledged.

Eight years later, the Ranch Sorting “Fun’d-Raiser” has generated $423,000 for local aid organizations.

“We’re on track to donate a half million dollars next year. We thank all these people who come here and ride, along with our entire list of sponsors who make this weekend possible.”

This year’s beneficiaries include Heartlinks Hospice & Palliative Care, Children’s Wishes & Dreams and Wellness House. Each group received a check for $24,000.

“It’s a huge gift, and the number of riders that come and support the event is outstanding. They get to hear about our organization and hear about two other great charities doing great things in the Yakima Valley,” Heartlinks Executive Director Shelby Moore stated while she kept track of the riding teams entering and leaving the pens.

“This gift goes for the Pediatric Palliative Care program, which serves children in their homes suffering from cancer and terminal illnesses.”

There were seven classes of teams competing for belt buckles and money. Half of the entry fee proceeds went to the event while riders attempt to win back the remaining portion.

The ranch sorting sport evolved from general cattle farm work. Separating or cutting cows and driving them into pens that pits a team of two riders on horseback against the clock, while keeping the wrong numbered cattle back.

“We love to sort and team pen. And, this is one of those events we love to do. So, to be able to come out and ride while supporting a beautiful cause, makes it such a wonderful time,” Desiree Legare expressed.

The western style equestrian from Vancouver, B.C. was competing with Aaron Krause, her boyfriend from Wenatchee, who is also a cancer survivor.

“We’ve never done this before. I just got into sorting and back into horses about six to eight months ago for my daughter. And then, Desiree came along, and here we are. And, the rest is history,” Krause happily explained.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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