Talented-beyond-their-years GENERAL HOSPITAL young actresses Haley Pullos and Lexi Ainsworth had a fun day on Thursday away from the set at the Circle K Horse Rentals in Burbank. Their horseback riding guide on the trail was Naseem Elhardouzi, an exceptional young 13-year-old with an interesting story to tell. Naseem is riding in Saddle Up L.A. this weekend and you can sponsor him here.
The purpose of Saddle Up L.A. An AIDS Horseback Trail Ride is two fold:
First; to provide financial support to The Life Group L.A. so they may continue providing education, empowerment and support to persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Secondly; to raise awareness of the fact that the AIDS pandemic is not over. The ride is an affirmation of the power of compassion and a demonstration that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.
Read Naseem's story below:
My name is Naseem. I ride horses at Circle K in Burbank, California. I want to tell you about a day I'll never forget and that has literally changed my Life. It was late last fall, and I was out at Circle K, when I saw this beautiful horse who gave me this look as if I knew him or as if I had been his previous owner. The look he gave was like he was telling me, “go look for my owner so we can be introduced.” I asked Carole, a woman who I had been horseback riding with for awhile, “who does that horse belong to?” and she told me that the horse belonged to a man named Viktor Manoel. By the way, the horse was named “Senor Gonzales.” At that very moment, Viktor approached us and she introduced him to me. We talked for a bit and I asked him if I could ride his horse. He said “sure, if you’re around this afternoon.” So I waited with great anticipation all afternoon for Viktor to return. I was amazed that for the first time that somebody had actually told me “yes” when I had asked if I could ride their horse!!! In my mind I felt like I had accomplished something.
Later that afternoon, sure enough Viktor returned to Circle K and I asked
him again, “are you really going to let me ride him?” Viktor replied by
saying that if I could saddle him up, I could ride him.” I was so excited, I ran to his stall to get him. He came to me right away as if he was waiting too! Viktor was surprised and the look on Gonzales face was like a kid on the 4th of July! So Viktor said, “I guess he likes you.” We saddled up and we rode together for 3 hours that day!! It was the most amazing ride!! I had never felt so connected and free with anything I had ever done before in my life.
Since my meeting of Senor Gonzales and Viktor, that day last fall, I have
learned a great many things. One of those things is that I must give more
than I receive. That is why I have decided to participate in SaddleUpLA.
SaddleUpLA is a fundraising ride to benefit AIDS research. The statistics
are staggering--As of the end of 2008, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981. Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans. At the end of 2008, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide. In developing and transitional countries 9.5 million people are in immediate need of life-saving drugs; of these, only 4 million 42% are receiving the drugs. So if you could please find it in your heart to somehow make a donation to this worthy cause, you would be helping millions of people (as well as myself in my first act of giving back).
Viktor will be participating in the ride with me. He has been participating
in charity events since 1989---walking, dancing, 10k's , marathons, cycling
and on horseback. Viktor had retired in 2005 when he bought Senor Gonzales,
but began again in 2006 when the first SaddleUpLA ride took place. He rode
with Gonzales. Gonzales has participated every year since 2006. This will be and Gonzales and my first ride together.
I have borrowed a couple quotes from Viktor’s letters that sum up how I look at life now:
“Gold must pass thru fire to achieve it's ultimate beauty.”
"Diamonds only become brilliant under great pressure.”
“It is the times that try us most that shape us, define and bring us closer
to the perfection within.”
My journey has just begun as I am still young, but this ride will be most
bittersweet because I am going to do it with “my boy G” (Senor Gonzales)!
Like I said in the beginning of this letter, I have learned that I must give back more than I receive. This is true for us all.
If you would like to make a donation, please go to www.saddleupla.com and sponsor me in this ride.
The Life Group LA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.