Teenager Meaghan Martin is turning her love of horseback riding into a fundraising initiative for breast cancer research at Maine Medical Center, inspired by her grandmother’s recent battle with the disease.

Martin, 16, of Hollis Center, will ride her standardbred gelding Charlie in a series of dressage competitions in the region, and she is asking for pledges based on her scores at these events, or outright donations. She’s calling her undertaking “Ribbons for Ribbons,” a nod to the ribbons she aims to win and the pink ribbon that signifies breast cancer awareness.

“It hit me especially hard,” said Martin, referring to her grandmother Ruth Martin’s breast cancer diagnosis last year. “This wasn’t happening to someone I didn’t know. This was my own grandmother. And I wanted to do something to help.”

An avid horseback-rider since she was five, Martin and her seven-year-old standardbred gelding Charlie compete in the Southern Maine Dressage Association schooling shows. Dressage – a French word that means training – is a discipline of riding sometimes referred to as ballet on horseback because of its beauty and elegance as the horse maneuvers in response to body signals from the rider.

“I had heard of other events and fundraisers where riders wore pink to raise money for breast cancer, but hadn’t heard of any dressage riders doing it,” she said, explaining the genesis of “Ribbons for Ribbons.”

“I tried to organize benefit trail rides at first, but because of insurance issues at the equestrian park, I was unable to do so,” she added. “So when I finally came up with a way to ride dressage and raise money, I was thrilled.”

Next, Martin had to choose a recipient for her fundraising efforts. A methodical young woman, she visited Maine Medical Center to learn more about cancer care and research. As a result of that visit, she decided to donate the funds she raises to cancer research at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute. This means all the money raised will be used to support cancer research in Maine, which appealed to her.

Martin’s goal is to raise $2,000 this summer, and donors can support her efforts in two different ways. The first is to simply make a donation, in any amount. Checks should be made payable to “Ribbons for Ribbons” and mailed to TD Banknorth, N.A., 111 Ossippee Trail, Standish, ME 04084.

The second option is to pledge an amount per point based on the final score that Martin and Charlie earn in competition. To make a pledge for one or more shows, e-mail her at [email protected] and let her know the amount you wish to pledge per point. After the competition, Martin will e-mail her final score to those who have made pledges. Her results also will be posted on her Web site, http://ribbonsforribbons.tripod.com.

In addition, donors can give online through Maine Medical Center’s secure online giving web pages, which can be accessed through the “Ribbons for Ribbons” Web site or the hospital’s philanthropy page (www.mmc.org, then click “Ways to Give”).

“We are very touched by and grateful for Meaghan’s efforts to support breast cancer research here at Maine Medical Center,” said Kenneth Ault, MD, director of the Maine Medical Center Research Institute. “The way she has channeled her love for her grandmother and her love of horseback-riding into such a positive undertaking is a real inspiration. It’s people like Meaghan who help fuel the fight against this disease; their contributions make possible the diagnostic and treatment advances we’ve seen to date.”

Such advances helped Martin’s grandmother in her fight against breast cancer. After undergoing two lumpectomies and radiation therapy, in February of this year Ruth Martin was told she was cancer-free.

“I’m so proud of Meaghan,” said her mother, Jeanne Martin, a sentiment Meaghan’s grandmother echoed. “She is a great example of how everyone can help, no matter who you are, or how old you are.”

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