NEW PORT RICHEY — At the age of 10, Ashlyn Head turned her love for horses into a fundraising opportunity through the 2009 “Ride for Hospice,” which raised $500 for Gulfside Regional Hospice.
For two years, Ashlyn and her equine pal continued the ride as the event’s top fundraiser, tripling the number of pledges.
Shortly after that, Ashlyn got a first-hand lesson in the pain and grief that accompanies hospice patients and their families facing end-of-life illnesses. Chloe became ill with laminitis, a disease that causes chronic inflammation and pain in the feet of hooved animals. The severity of it, and the fact that the animal would not get better, prompted the teenager to end her horse’s suffering.
Now 15, Ashlynn has befriended a horse named Mocha, who has helped her continue to raise donations to benefit the hospice. At an awards luncheon on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Spartan Manor, Ashlyn was recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Nature Coast Chapter for National Philanthropy Day, officially held Nov. 15, with the “Youth in Philanthropy” Award.
When her name was called, Ashlyn shyly rose from her table to accept her award and give a short speech.
“My grandmother and her friends did the Ride for Hospice and it seemed like a good opportunity for me to help out because I ride horses,” Ashlynn said. The East Pasco Adventist Academy freshman has been riding horses since she was 4 years old.
Ashlynn lives on a Dade City ranch with her family and eight horses. Rose Petal Stables is named after her first horse, Rose.
National Philanthropy Day is celebrated nationally by AFP chapters to recognize individuals, organizations and businesses that give back to their local communities. The organization serves to advance philanthropy and fundriaising professionalism, educate and train professionals and uphold high ethical standards when fundraising for nonprofit organizations.
“We try to make sure people are doing things ethically,” said Craig McCart, who founded the Nature Coast chapter five years ago. “You see in the paper all the time about non-profits not using money ethically or taking advantage of people.”
The awards luncheon was the third annual ceremony held by the local chapter, which encompasses Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. Five other awards were given out, as well as a scholarship to AFP member Stefanie Pontlitz to attend the AFP International Conference on Fundraising to further devlop her fundraising skills and knowledge.
The 2013 awards included: Philanthropic Service Organization, given to the West Pasco Sertoma Club; the Philanthropic Small Business, given to Greg Henry Restoration Specialist; the Philanthropic Corporation, given to Morton Plant Mease Health Care;, Volunteer of the Year, given to 87-year-old Betty Kempf; and Philanthropist of the year, given to state Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Triliby.
Each award recipient was nominated by individuals and organizations in the community for the time and money they’ve donated to various efforts and organizations.
“A lot of them do so much for our community and are so giving that we need to recognize them and instill philanthropy in others,” said Debra Golinski, the program chair.
The 2013 winners were chosen by a panel of judges.