Fifty-four participants showed their horses Saturday for the love of it, but some had a more personal reason.
The 11th annual Midwest Regional Futurity Jubilee Horse Show, held at Flickerwood Arena in Jackson, helps fund Southeast Missouri Hospital's youth diabetes programs.
"We're here because it's a diabetes benefit," Eric Runnels said.
Runnels and his wife, Angela, of Cape Girardeau have been showing horses at the event for about a decade. The couple breeds and shows horses regularly.
Eric Runnels has dealt with the disease long enough to understand its progression. A weakening pancreas has caused him to be on a 24-hour insulin pump for two years. It gives him better control of his blood sugar with regular increments of insulin rather than shots.
The Runnelses support the show because it educates youths on how to deal with diabetes.
"It's bad enough for an adult to have to deal with diabetes but worse for children," he said.
A welder, he made the contribution of a stainless steel silhouette of a horse framed in a horseshoe shape to be sold at the show's silent auction.
This year, Stan Christisen, president of the horse show, consolidated what was previously two shows into one.
Instead of paying inspectors, judges, an organist and an announcer for two shows, paying only one group for these services "cuts down on expenses," he said. Between futurity classes and the evening show, a total of 36 classes are offered. Christisen said, "It costs about $12,000 to $13,000 to put on the show, and it couldn't be done without volunteers," he said.
At 75, Don C. Heuer had been riding more than 70 years. He shows every chance he gets and has been at this show every year. Three things he's seen are growth, higher standards and more competition.
He became diabetic in 1991 and participates in the show's one diabetic class.
"We only had about three diabetic riders last year, but we keep trying to get more," he said.
His support for the cause will manifest itself again next month when he holds the second annual diabetes benefit at his farm in Cape Girardeau County. Last year, about 100 showed up for the barbecue, trail ride and fun horse show with games.
"We raised over $2,600. If they find a cure for youth diabetes, then maybe they can find a cure for adults," Heuer said.
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