Pony Express events are once again getting underway for this year's fund drive. The ride will take place on Good Friday, April 9, with the final leg of the ride parading into Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines on Saturday, April 10.
The annual Pony Express Benefit Dance will be held on Saturday, April 3 from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Moose Lodge in Spencer.
Music will be provided by the Crazy Horse DJ. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Tickets are being sold at Copytec (Standard Printing) and at the H&N used car lot.
In 1968, "Stub" Johnson and Leo Gray of Spencer and Wayne Neilson of Spirit Lake originated the idea of a "Pony Express style ride" in Northwest Iowa.
That first ride raised nearly $12,000. The money was divided between two charitable organizations, one of which was Easter Seals Camp Sunnyside.
That first ride went so well that the next year, it was expanded to cover the entire state, with all of the proceeds going to benefit Camp Sunnyside.
In 1969, the Pony Express Riders of Iowa, Inc., was organized and Pete Peters of Belmond was elected as the first president. The group decided that their mission would be to participate in fund raising with Camp Sunnyside, thereby helping Iowa's children and adults with disabilities.
In its more than 30 year history, the organization has raised more than $6 million. In 2000 alone, over $329,000 was raised.
Dar Campbell and family started having an annual dance in 1977. The first year, $900 was raised. During the next seven years, $22,856 was raised, with the total just for 1984 being $12,578.
Campbell's daughter Carol would hold an auction at her home in Gillett Grove and raised over $1,000 each year. Other events over the years included a parade, tug-of- war, auctions, and a celebrity jail.
* Any person or business who would like to donate a door prize or an item to be auctioned, please call Marv Smith at 712-876-2237 and he will arrange to have the item picked up.