KNOXVILLE, Iowa — A horse show that is aimed at raising money and awareness for suicide prevention is taking place on the Marion County Fairgrounds this weekend.
“If he were here he would be out here helping us, he would be a big supporter of this by far. He would be my biggest supporter here,” said Marley Larson, the 16-year-old girl who founded the Annual Suicide Prevention Horse Show.
Larson lost her brother to suicide four years ago, and now she is using horse shows as a way to honor his memory by raising money for a mental health organization.
“We will be close to $11-$12,000 this year,” said Ashley Kline, Larson’s older sister. “90 to 100 percent goes to Your Life Matters which is an organization in Knoxville, grown out of Knoxville, and they support a lot of outreach programs with suicide prevention and a lot with our school systems.”
Larson’s annual horse show has been so successful that she is opening up her own non-profit this year, where she will give money to organizations that help people with mental health.
Eighteen horses competed in the horse show on Saturday and Larson expects Sunday to be an even bigger event than usual. Kline swears that her sister came up with the idea all by herself.
“Especially not knowing anything about horses,” said Kline talking about herself. “She took it and ran with this. To be 100 percent honest she did all of this herself in the first year, she didn’t have any help.”
There are ribbons, prizes and gift cards to be won by the competitors. All made available because of the sponsors of the event.
“So we have classes in which one is going on right now,” said Larson as she pointed to the horse pen. “They enter five dollars per class and seven dollars per jackpot which is what they earn back. We also give out prizes and ribbons and we have a lot of gift cards that we can give out.”
A horse show focused on fun and competition, but with the intent to spread awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.
“I combined my passions with horses and awareness,” said Larson. “And after my brother passed to keep his memory alive and, I guess, just to make sure that no one thinks that we are alone. We are always out here and you can always contact us.”