An event that was over a year in the making exceeded all expectations Saturday when the community showed up in consistent waves to support RVR Horse Rescue.
The rescue moved to its home on West State Road 60 in Plant City in January 2020 and was eager to get everything ready to throw a grand opening and invite the community onto its grounds. However, with the rapid arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, those plans were quickly put on the back burner.
“We just really would like to thank everybody in Plant City for coming out and welcoming us to the community,” Kelly Ford, vice president of RVR, said. “We really feel welcome here and we love it. We would love to welcome some of our Plant City neighbors to volunteer with us or adopt a horse. Of course, as a 501(c)(3) all of the donations people give go to the care of the horses. We are all volunteers and none of us get paid so it’s great that the community can know that every penny they donate goes right back into caring for these rescued horses.”
The overflow parking lot remained full throughout the entire event as families flocked to pet the horses, tour the property and enjoy a fun and relaxing day outdoors. This was the first Forever Home event at the Plant City location and it kicked off with quite a bang. Two days earlier, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce hosted its official ribbon cutting ceremony at the location and word quickly spread throughout the community of the upcoming event.
Music wafted from the open barn where families gathered to enjoy lunch, bid on raffles, take home their very own RVR merch, pick up some desserts from 3C’s Catering’s bake sale and learn more about the organization as a whole. Classix performed some beloved country tunes that had many singing along and a few guests even made an impromptu dance floor near their tables as they swayed and cut a rug to the beat.
Typically, RVR is not open to the public as there are not enough volunteers to consistently offer tours of the property. The Forever Home event offered the community a chance to peek behind the curtain and see all the success stories RVR has been able to provide for local horses in need. Volunteers were scattered throughout the area to meet guests and give an inside look at what the facility does.
RVR was originally located in Riverview and has been in operation for more than a decade. The horse rescue focuses on rehabilitating and rehoming injured or sick horses. It prides itself on taking in “the worst cases of abuse and neglect” and then offering those horses a second chance at life. It is an accredited Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance organization and received its 501(c)3 non-profit status in 2001.
“We were thrilled with everything, we were really, really thrilled,” Ford said. “We got a lot of positive feedback and everyone seemed to really enjoyed the music and the great food. If I had to guess, I would say throughout the day we had 700 or 800 people come through. What was interesting was people seemed to stay longer, which is probably because of the music. I was stationed in the big barn and saw several people come through multiple times. We had a lot of people express an interest in volunteering. I was surprised also at how many people drove from really far distances to see us in action. We had some from Jacksonville, Gainesville, Dunedin and from south Florida. People follow us on Facebook and when they saw we were having this event, they really committed to coming out and supporting us.”
RVR Is located at 1710 W. State Road 60. To learn more visit rvrhorserescue.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you missed the grand opening but still want to come out to the rescue for a fun time, RVR will host another event on June 18. It will be a concert performance, “Save a Horse, Rock a Cowboy” by Soul Circus Cowboys. Tickets are $45 and that includes admission, a meal and two drink tickets. The concert will be from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. You can also buy a table for a group. Head over to RVR Horse Rescue’s Facebook page to find more information about the event and click on the link to grab your tickets.