April 9, 2007

Horseback for Hope to stop in Cokato

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Cokato will soon be one of the stops on a 450-mile horseback ride to help raise awareness and funding for camps specializing in grieving youth.

Art Dingmann of Annandale and Jerry Brown of Ingomar, Mont. are the two avid horseback riders and Minnesota Foundation for Children members, who will embark on the journey.

The two men will partake in Horseback for Hope, in an effort to raise awareness and funding for Camp Amanda-Minnesota.

They will ride from Winona, Minn. beginning Monday, April 9 and end in Duluth around Thursday, May 3, depending on weather conditions.

On their ride, they will be passing through Cokato, Thursday, April 19, along County Roads 2 and 3.

One of their destinations will be this year’s second Camp Amanda at Camp Courage in Maple Lake Sunday, April 22.

Camp Amanda are weekend camps for ages 6 through 18 who have experienced a death of a parent, grandparent, sibling, or significant friend.

“I’m very excited to make this journey in honor of Camp Amanda-Minnesota and the wonderful work that is done to help children move through the grief process in a safe and nurturing environment,” Dingmann said.

The camps are free to participants. The main source of its funding comes from the Minnesota Funeral Directors Association.

“It’s a very worthwhile effort,” said Mark Peterson, Cokato funeral director and member of the Minnesota Funeral Directors Association.

Camp Amanda-Minnesota has helped more than 500 youth since the camp’s beginning in 2003, according to Coral Popowitz, executive director of the Minnesota Foundation for Children, which operates the camps in the state.

At the camps, grieving youth have the opportunity to have fun and be with others who have experienced a death close to them, as well, Popowitz said.

The camp closes with a balloon release ceremony with the child and his or her parents or guardians.

The Minnesota Foundation of Children believe that mourning is a process, not a one-time event; that mourning is a natural reaction to a death of a loved one, not an illness to be cured or diagnosed; and grieving children will often talk through or play out their concerns and fears if provided with a safe, supportive, non-judgmental environment, according to Popowitz.

To learn more about Camp Amanda-Minnesota and pledge support for Horseback for Hope, visit www.campamandaminn.org or www.horsebackforhope.org.

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