Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 11/05/98; 2:00:00PM.

Opening Ceremony at the 1998 Wishing Star Gallop

You could feel the anticipation from the audience. Many had not seen this brilliant team, others hadn't seen him at the Gallop for the past two years. As expected, the "Gallop" and "Darik Anderson" had not let down it's audience. The opening was once again exceptional! Smoke from behind the sheer closed drapes crept out from underneath. Music began, a dim light became bright creating a beautiful silhouette of this Arabian stallion with his handler. Lights from behind the drapes began blinking on the silhouette as the great black Arabian stallion reared up on command. Slowly the curtains opened. From billowing clouds of fog came forward "Bey Shahboom" and "Darik Anderson." It was a breathtaking entrance! The house, which was standing room only, was captivated by these two. The appearance, intelligence and magnificent pedigree of this stallion impressed thousands of people attending this year's event with his graceful free style liberty performance. To watch them performing together in an arena with no strings attached was a sight to be seen. It was a spectacular performance executed with obvious devotion by both horse and trainer.

This year's Production Numbers had to be one of the most memorable happenings that day. Professional singer April Vogel, appeared on stage singing a very powerful song - "When You Wish Upon A Star." Music began as the sheer white drapes lit up. This time we saw the silhouette of a horse and child. The child was mounted and wearing what appeared to be a "Cinderella" ward robe. Slowly the drapes began to open, and forward came a black stallion - Desert Dark Fire+ - owned by Dan & Suzy Braaten of Spokane, Washington. Astride was Wishing Star's Ambassador Of Good Will for the 1998 Gallop, 4-year-old Crystal Heden. She was dressed in a purple glittery turn of the century dress, with a headpiece to match and veils (from the hat) that flowed down her tiny body. The white cape around her shoulders dragged the ground as she walked. Around her headpiece was a diamond crown. She was a perfect princess! Three attending "pages" walked along side her, all were dressed in period coats and top hats. When she reached April, she was escorted from the horse to the stage. Crystal took hold of April's hand, and what unfolded was breathtaking to behold.

In the planning months before, April Vogel (Gallop's performing singer), suggested that she do "When You Wish Upon A Star." Shortly after "Desert Dark Fire's+" owner - Suzy Braaten - mentioned she'd like to do a "Cinderella" theme for this child and her stallion. April and Suzy knew nothing of each others ideas. The exciting thing was, neither of them knew that Crystal's wish is to go to Disneyworld. Her family of five will be leaving this December. Her debut could not have been better. She was a beautiful princess that day! A day she had looked forward to for weeks prior to the event, as she battled her leukemia with chemotherapy treatment in the hospital.

Later, April returned to the stage with several Wishing Star children following her. She sat down center stage, and the children surrounded her in a circle as she began to sing "Angels Among Us." Ten Wishing Star children listened, and then joined her on the chorus. As they began to sing, more children appeared on stage. The words to the song were perfect and touched the heart of all who were there. Upon completion of this number, April spoke on the importance of Wishing Star's mission for its children, the support of all attending, and the importance of one little girl that this event was being dedicated to - Tiffani Turner. The two song's being sung were not new to the event. They were Tiffani's favorite's over the course of seven years participating at the Gallop. From those words April began to sing, "Greatest Love Of All." The stage was filled with the area talent of April Vogel, Barbara Turner, wish families, Gallop committee people, and Janet Gorman's children choir. This performance was one of the many highlights that signify the quality of the Gallop, and its prestige in the Northwest!

Following the production numbers a memorial was given to wish child, Tiffani Turner. The event had been dedicated to her passing away in May of this year. Her wish nine years prior was to meet Whitney Houston. Wishing Star sent her to New York to see her. Upon congestive heart failure in February of 1996, one of Tiffani's last request - years after her wish was done - was to make a music/video with her mother. She wanted to go into a "real" recording studio and make a music/video. Sound Recording put everything together for her - and once again - her dream became a reality. She then asked Barbara Turner to play it in her absence at the Gallop. After the video played Barb Turner introduced her mother - Janell Turner. She came on stage and spoke about the life of her beautiful daughter, and the importance's Wishing Star had on their lives the past nine years.

At this point, Gallop Coordinator Barbara Turner gave an inspiring tribute to this child. Over the years she and the family had become close friends. Several calls were made to Barb the day of Tiffani's passing - she was out of town. Her mother's last recorded message - shortly after 4:00 a.m. - informed Barb that she had just passed away. Barb had not gotten the opportunity to say "good-bye." She told the audience that "words were to overwhelming for her, but on behalf of herself and all who had the opportunity to have known her - she dedicated this song in her memory." As she began to sing, "Good-Bye My Friend," two ten-foot video screens played footage of Tiffani growing up through the years she participated at Wishing Star Gallop. An event her mother described as being more important to her than Christmas. Harder to watch - than last years tribute to the loss of stallions, committee people and children over a fifteen year period - audience hearts went out (once again) to Barb as they watched her compelling tribute. You could see how hard it was for her to get through her presentation, yet how beautiful her actions were being executed and performed. Everyone was moved with emotions as they watched her sing with composure, dedication, respect and love for this Wishing Star child and friend. It was another unforgettable memory.

In addition to the Big "D" Blankets, this years event also offered other non-stallion service auctioned items. For many years now - in his compassion for Wishing Star's children - Patrick Swayze has been autographing a personal message on one of his posters, making it a collector's item for someone's home. When asked, he's never said "no." Patrick Swayze's poster, art framed by Pacific Flyway Gallery, captivated spectators and bidders. It went home with Ray Wegner of Ellensburg, Washington. Southwest Airlines donated two round trip tickets anywhere in the U.S. The tickets were purchased by Sam Fodge of Bonners Ferry, ID. for $650. Wishing Star received a call from R.V. Bob Baker weeks before the event. He wanted to donate an antique horse drawn vehicle (completely restored). Calls like this are a rare blessing. As a past supporter of wish organizations, he wanted to help. What an opportunity it was for Wishing Star to offer such a collector's piece. It was purchased by another supporter of Wishing Star, Mitch Hutchinson of Spokane Equine Hospital in Cheney, Wa. for $2,000. John & Joyce Wing of Wing's Fencing and Fabrication once again donated a free standing heavy duty fourteen gauge galvanized 12x12 paneled corral with a superbull gate. It sold to Rita Zorrozua of Spokane, WA. Al Randall of Pine Rock Marketing - in cooperation with Professional Choice Sports Medicine Products, Super Sweats, Ortho-Flex, Vita Flex, Rio Vista, and Lexington Safety Products, donated a complete trainers package, selling to Harold & Debbie Kruger of Rathdrum, Idaho for $400. Gary Johnson of Iron Horse Construction donated a stall door that was iron framed with solid steel bars, tongue & grove hasa fir and larch lumber. It sold to Rick Maynard of Sandpoint, Idaho. Another highlight to the non-service auction items was a "Princess Diana" beanie baby bear. Tiffani Turner had wanted it to be auctioned off in the event of her death. It sold to Jim Wentland of Medical Lake, Wa for $225. Wishing Star thanks Patrick Swayze, Tiffani Turner, R.V. Bob Baker, Southwest Airlines, John & Joyce Wings, Al Randall, and Gary Johnson. Your efforts and support will bring a smile to a little child's face.

The evening ended in great success. The stallion services auction attributing over $50,000 to the gross figure of over $80,000. Coordinator, Barbara Turner, tells us that the success of this event would not have been possible if not for the sponsors. "Our sponsors are where it begins," Barbara tells us, "But not where it ends. Gallop's success comes from the support, contributions, donations of stallion owners, trade show participators, volunteers, businesses, and spectators. I'm also proud of the horse industry. Regardless of breeds, we've all come together to work for a great cause and successful event. Everyone plays an important roll in this success story."

Wishing Star's Gallop Coordinator Barb Turner reminds us that as you read this article "wishes" have been completed and are currently being granted to several children. "We granted 65 wishes in the 1997/98 fiscal year, said Barb Turner. The average cost of a wish is now up to $4,600. Of our general expenses this past fiscal year, 84% went directly to the "wishes." These are figures that Wishing Star is very proud of. Some of the 65 wishes granted were a pony, computer, Chicago Bull trip, being a ball-boy for the Houston's, meeting Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers, Alaska Trip, a 3-Wheeler, a Volcanic Expedition, a Nickelodeon Trip, writing a book of your life, a swing set, meeting actor - John Travolta, Big Red Boat Trip, Mall of America trip, Hot Tub, Hawaii Trip, Super Bowl Game, Olympic Training, Barney Interactive, car, wheel-chair van, truck, Room Remodeled, or our most popular request - Disneyland or DisneyWorld. All who supported the Gallop should be very proud of your efforts. You've helped to make "special" children's dreams a reality. I thank you all!"

For more information on stallion services, booths, volunteering help or being a sponsor - Contact Gallop Coordinator, Barbara Turner - 466-8719 / 744-3411 or drop a line to Wishing Star Foundation, Attn.: Barbara Turner, W. 915 2nd Ave, Suite #3 - Spokane, WA 99201.

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