2008-05-15 / Front Page

Family gives to farm in honor of late son

Riding High thankful for contributions that paid for fencing

UPPER FREEHOLD - Good fences make good neighbors. And for those with horses as neighbors, good fencing is imperative.

Thanks to a fundraising drive by a township couple, Riding High Farm on Route 526 will put up new and improved fencing to keep the 10 horses used in its therapeutic riding program safe and sound.

Peggy and John Scanlon raised the money as a memorial to their son Brian, who died last year at the age of 40. On May 10, Riding High Farm held a fence installation barbeque and dedicated a plaque in Brian's name.

Brian Scanlon was an information technology engineer working in Arizona at the time of his death, according to his mother. She said he was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, N.Y., before moving to New Jersey in the 1980s. The Scanlons lived in Somerset before John and Peggy moved to the Four Seasons active adult community in Upper Freehold.

Peggy Scanlon said that Brian loved animals, and rescued a lot of them.When out driving one day, they came upon Riding High Farm. Theymet Robyn Struz, the program director at Riding High Farm, and Peggy began volunteering for the therapeutic riding program.

Riding High Farm has between 50 and 60 riders permonth and gives between 200 and 250 lessons per month, according to President Dennis Kahn.

After Brian's death, his parents adopted a horse at the farmnamed Bingo. They support Bingo's needs bymaking donations for items that the horse needs for his everyday care. Peggy Scanlon said she was glad when she met Bingo to see that he was a strawberry blond just like her son.

Bing, as they call him, is a 28-year-old draft/paint cross gelding that stands at 16.2 hands. He was donated by a local family after he could no longer handle work as a hunter/jumper. He served in the farm's Horses for Heroes programfor soldiers and is overall considered a "go-to guy" for serving the smallest of children to the oldest of adults.

"His gentle and caring puppy-dog personality allows everyone to feel safe and trust in him," Struz said. "Bingo is the horse that gets under your skin and leaves hismark on everyone's soul that meets him."

In the year following Brian's death on May 21, 2007, his father wanted to do something else in his son's name. Peggy Scanlon said they thought about a golf tournament, but knew that Riding High Farm was in need of donations.

Riding High Farm board member Regina King and Struz let them know of the urgent need for new fencing at the farm. The Scanlon family, including Brian's sister and brother, put together a letter and mailed it to all of their friends and family members. Their efforts resulted in raising over $8,000 for the fencing project, which will allow the farmto install the fence all at once instead of in stages.

Themoney left overmay go to purchase a lift for older children with disabilities who need help mounting the horses, according to Peggy Scanlon.

She said she was overwhelmed by the response to her family's letter.

"People were very interested in what Riding High does," she said.

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