Despite experiencing some difficult days in the past week, Bellefontaine High School junior Je’Ree Sopher wore a wide smile, along with a bright pink Breeches and Wranglers 4-H Club Tshirt, Friday morning while delivering piping hot pancakes topped with butter and syrup to his teachers and fellow students.
Bellefontaine High School junior Je’Ree Sopher, right, watches while his grandmother, Kim Sopher, pours syrup atop a pancake Friday morning at the school for a fundraiser to benefit the Discovery Riders Therapeutic Riding and Learning Center in memory of former director Linda Hauck. (EXAMINER PHOTO | MANDY LOEHR)
While pushing a cart loaded with hotcakes all around the high school with several peers, he reflected on a special woman who was his mentor, horseback riding coach and 4-H adviser during the past 10 years and was the inspiration for the pancake breakfast.
Je’Ree and fellow students in Rick Reed’s special needs classroom collaborated to coordinate the fundraiser in memory of city resident Linda Hauck, who passed away Feb. 7 at age 63 following a battle with cancer. Donations totaling $270 from the breakfast will benefit the Discovery Riders Therapeutic Riding and Learning Center near Zanesfield, where Hauck served as the executive director for a number of years. Her compassionate and gentle ways with the riders influenced Je’Ree and many others who passed through the horse stalls and riding area.
“I’ve known Linda since about the time I started at the Discovery Riders, when I was in kindergarten or first-grade,” the 17-year-old recalled. “When I started there, I couldn’t even ride a horse. Now I’m volunteer and I help other kids to have a good time and enjoy their riding.
“While volunteering there, Linda was my boss and she was proud of me for all I was able to do. I also clean out stalls and help with grooming the horses.”
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