Trail riders big and small saddled up yesterday to give a Kiama family a helping hand.
Seventy people braved the scorching sun and took part in the annual Derek Readman Memorial Charity Ride, to raise money for Kiama High School student Kayla Gibson, 12, who suffers from the rare bone disorder Kniest dysplasia.
Kayla is unable to support her own body weight, has had numerous surgeries for scoliosis and is wheelchair-bound.
Proceeds from the ride, hosted by the Illawarra Horse Trail Riders club, will go towards fitting out Kayla's home with life-altering equipment, including a special chair and track that will allow her to be moved around the house more freely.
"All her mum has to do is put her in the chair and she can take her to the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or wherever without having to physically pick her up and carry her everywhere, which is what has been happening for a very long time," explained club member John Van De Haar.
Mr Van De Haar said the club had chosen to donate funds from the annual charity ride to Kayla after a member and Kiama High School teacher told them of her plight. This year participants rode from Albion Park's Stoney Range Pony Club through picturesque farmland to Dunmore and back.
Although first held in 1998, the ride became known as the Derek Readman Memorial Charity Ride in March 2008 after Mr Readman, a founding member of the club, lost his battle with cancer at the age of 54.
Mr Van De Haar said the event raised between $3000 and $3500 for Kayla and her mother.