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Agriculture Today

Riding for children who can’t ride

Riding for children who can’t ride
Donovan Bowden, the CHTR 2013 “Inspiration Child,” proudly holds a belt buckle given to him by the Children’s Hospital Trail Ride directors during a team-roping event held in Adkins.

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Wilson County News
August 21, 2013
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Falls City trail ride celebrates 25 years

This year marked the silver anniversary of the Children’s Hospital Trail Ride (CHTR) with three fund-raising events held in Adkins and Cestohowa. The climax was a presentation on July 31, when a check from the Children’s Hospital Trail Ride events totaling $43,000 was awarded to the CHRISTUS Children’s Hospital. The sole purpose of the ride was to raise funds for children who need medical assistance, in short, for children who cannot ride.

For the past 25 years, volunteers have united to provide funds to the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System. The Children’s Hospital Trial Ride, a nonprofit organization, works to provide new equipment “to meet the unique needs of children of South Texas,” said CHTR treasurer Becky Dickson.

Over the years, their work and dedication has assisted ill and injured children from more than 90 South Texas counties.

Early beginnings

The Children’s Hospital Trail Ride in Falls City began as a warmup for the sixth annual ride sponsored by the Children’s Hospital Trail Ride and Benefit Dance organization, held at the Kendall County Fairgrounds in Boerne. Alton Moczygemba, then-president of the Children’s Hospital Trail Ride and Benefit Dance, was joined by four other Karnes County residents to organize a ride from SaddleTramps and Mule Skinners Inn, west of Falls City. Mary Elizabeth “Pumpkin” Culpepper and Lorraine Toothman of Falls City and Johnny Pfeil and Frank Kruciak of Karnes City joined Moczygemba. The riders proceeded to the Falls City Community Hall, where a supper and dance were held.

Among the activities were a trail ride, a cowboy stew dinner, a calf-roping event, an auction, and a dance. During the first year, $8,000 was raised, according to Culpepper, and this was without the dance, since the band couldn’t make it in.

Serving as the first trail boss was Pat Halpin of San Antonio, while Virgil Culpepper served as the first wagon boss in San Antonio. Virgil Culpepper continued with the Falls City rides for more than 10 years.

The Falls City ride might have changed throughout the years, but one thing has not -- they all do it for the children. Today, the group raises more than $40,000 annually.

The original Children’s Hospital Trail Ride, according to Culpepper, traveled from the Alzafar Shrine Temple to the Texas Dance Hall in San Antonio, and was held on a Sunday. Later, it was moved to Boerne.

‘Inspiration Child’

The first “Inspiration Child” was Shawna Wiatrek, the daughter of Jim and Elaine Wiatrek of Wilson County. According to Culpepper, Shawna served for several years.

Dickson said the directors try to select a South Texas child to be the “face” of each year’s ride.

Donovan Bowden is the 2013 Inspiration Child. Donovan, 8, is from La Vernia and is battling a brain tumor. According to the Children’s Hospital Trail Ride website, he is facing his medical problem “with incredible humility, wit, and a great sense of humor.”

Donovan shared this special message.

“Thank you Children’s Hospital Trail Ride organization and all of the volunteers who help raise funds for me and my other little friends to help benefit from the best care at Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.”


Culpepper, who is active with the trail rides that travel South Texas for the start of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, got other organizations involved in the CHTR trail ride. The South Texas Trail Riders was the first to join, followed by Mesquite Traildrivers and Old Chisholm Trail Drivers, with a total of 12 organizations participating in the annual event.

In 2000, a trail ride sweetheart was selected, with Ruby Pawelek being the first. Debby Dunn was selected in 2013. Culpepper also was honored with this title in 2008.


Three events are conducted to raise funds -- a team-roping event, a trail ride, and a cook-off. Each concludes with a dance.

The Mesquite Hall in Adkins was the site for the seventh annual team-roping event March 1-2. More than $15,000 was raised for the Children’s Hospital.

The second event was a 17-mile trail ride, held March 16 in Cestohowa. This year marked the CHTR’s 25th anniversary of the first ride from Falls City.

The third event was the 17th annual CHTR cook-off held May 18 in Cestohowa. The “High Strung BBQ Team” won this year’s event.

“Over the past 25 years, the Trail Ride group and volunteers have raised more than $815,945 to benefit the children at Children’s Hospital of San Antonio,” said Veronica S. Laurel, director of Communications & Marketing, Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Foundation & Friends of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Foundation. “150,000 children were served in 2012, arriving from 90 counties throughout San Antonio and South Texas.”

Seventh annual CHTR Roping results

No. 13 -- Joel Rocha and Matt Cypress, first; Randall Gaydos and Dean Salyer, second; and Dillon Schultz and Sergio Gonzales, third.

Beginners Round Robin -- Joey Deal and Brian Stevens, first; Walt Harris and Panda Rodriguez, second; and Lupe Rocha and Larry May, third.

No. 8 -- Roland Sanchez and Josh Milliken, first; Clay Wagner and Jesse Trbula, second; Chris Soto and Ray Urbanczyk, third; Brian Hackfield and Jesse Trbula, fourth; Bobby Shockley and Oscar Soto, fifth.

No. 10 -- Larry Browne and Ron Lee, first; Randall Gaydos and Ray Bitzkie, second; Chris Soto and Adrian Trevino, third; Sam Foster and Billy Hale, fourth; and Balde Ramirez and Ray Villarreal, fifth.

Mark your calendar for the 2014 event set for Feb. 28 and March 1 at the Mesquite Hall in Adkins.

CHTR’s families
Children’s Hospital Trail Ride (CHTR) Treasurer Becky Dickson said the following families have been instrumental in the CHTR’s success for the past 25 years -- Moczygemba, Balser, Moy, Pawelek, Bollman, Blocker, Kowalik, Culpepper, Gorzell, Sturm, Horton, Stolle, Mutz, Dziuk, and “probably many more that I do not know,” Dickson said.

Want to join?
The Children’s Hospital Trail Ride has no membership dues and relies strictly on volunteerism.

To volunteer or donate to help, contact an officer: President Buck Griffin at 210-421-1494, Vice President and Trail Boss Lupe Valdez at 830-391-1459, Secretary Summer Mendoza at 830-299-0032, or Treasurer Becky Dickson at 210-649-3813.

For more information, visit or on Facebook.

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