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It may have been a record: On December 18, 197 riders from 13 different hunts in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Jersey joined Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire for a fundraising hunt in honor of Jake Chalfin of Unionville, Pa., a steeplechase jockey and avid foxhunter.

Photo by Marsha Scharnberg

Chalfin was paralyzed from the chest down after falling from his mount “Sometimes Not” at the Blue Ridge Fall Races in Berryville, Va. in September. While he’s been working hard to regain his strength, Jake’s many friends and fans have been also been hard at work conducting a fundraising campaign to help cover the significant long-term expenses associated with Jake’s injuries.

To date, “Chasin’ for Chalfin” events have raised approximately $180,000 towards a goal of $1 million dollars. A “Stealin’ the Start” benefit auction and dinner was held on December 4 at The Stone Barn in Kennett Square, Pa.   Arabella Brockett, one of Jake’s foxhunting friends, says, “This kickoff event was an amazing outpouring of support and community event.   250 people attended.   We sold hundreds of items in live and silent auctions including caps with regional hunts; a saddle worn by Ruffian; trips to Jamaica, Europe and Hawaii; and artwork.”  Those who could not attend the benefit in person had the opportunity to participate in the live auction online.

On a brutally cold and windy day even by eastern Pennsylvania standards, the fundraising foxhunt raised more than $32,000 that day alone. Master Russell Jones, says, “Everyone wanted to help Jake and all the landowners welcomed us because of the nature of the hunt. It was a great idea and a good day of hunting.  Everyone who registered got a sticker to put on their boot or horse’s hip that said ‘Jake Chalfin’ Hunt’.  Afterwards everyone was invited to the heated tent at the home of George and Gretchen Wintersteen, where there was plenty of warm food, soup and coffee. The fundraising event worked like magic!  Almost 200 people is a big field for such a cold day, but it turned out to be a great day for supporting Jake, for foxhunting, and for demonstrating community support.”

Paddy Neilson, Cheshire board member and Whipper In, agrees with Jones. He says, “To my knowledge, this is a first; there has never been a benefit foxhunt in the U.S. before.  It was a unique idea for a great cause and a victory for foxhunting!  Everyone enjoyed the hunt, and although we had a slow start, at the end we had a run that was almost 1 ½ hours. This event gave many hunts and the community the chance to reach out and do the right thing for a very worthy person.  ”

The monies raised are going directly to Jake to help cover the cost of a specially modified van, renovating his home to accommodate his special needs, physical therapy, home care services and other therapeutic healing modalities.   You can find out more about future events and donate by visiting www.chasinforchalfin.com.

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