Seventh Annual Hunter Pace for HOPE missing a star volunteer

Published 3:34 pm Monday, April 26, 2010

The 7th Annual Hunter Pace for HOPE is coming up on May 16 at Green Space of Fairview. But Rick Otto, one of the Hunter Paces central figuresa man whose unfailing good humor and hard work contributed to the success of the Hunter Pace for HOPE for six years, will not be there.

Otto passed away several weeks ago, succumbing to the disease he had been battling for years.

For the past six years, Patty Otto, owner of the Hare and Hound in Landrum and the Lake Lanier Tea House, has supplied all the food to serve the army of riders, their guests and all the volunteers who make up the event. That amounts to at least two thousand hot dogs and hamburgers.

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Rick Otto always volunteered to tow the heavy commercial cooker from the Hare and Hound to the front lawn of Born Free Farm barn in Fairview where the event is held. Then he and his best friend, Larry Wassong, would stand for hours in all kinds of weather, serving hundreds of burgers, each individually cooked to order for the riders, their families and guests. The only complaint these intrepid chefs ever heard? The hamburgers are too big.

It takes an army of volunteers to put on this Hunter Pace, an extremely labor- intensive event; trails have to be cut and cleared on the eight-to-10-mile route, which takes riders through the countryside and exposes them and their horses to all different types of terrain.

Kate Manno, Larry Wassong, and Elaine Belk head up this years team of volunteers who tackle a long list of duties. Signs advertising and directing traffic to the Hunter Pace for HOPE need to be placed at all highway and major road intersections and in heavily trafficked local areas.

Volunteers are needed for the tents and tables that need to be set up, release and consent forms printed, riders registered, trophies and ribbons ordered, parking lots manned (or womanned), emergency veterinarians on call and EMS notified, but hopefully not needed.

And after everyone leaves, horse trailers in tow and stomachs full, theres the massive clean up.&bsp; Rick Otto always took part in cleaning up the food service area, deconstructing he called it.

The 7th Annual Hunter Pace for HOPE will be held Sunday, May 16, at Greenspace of Fairview Farms from 9 a.m to 2 p.m.

WC Hunter Pace Series, Hunter Division(jumps optional), Trail Rider Division, English/Western Riders all welcome, current negative coggins required, protective headgear required, children must ride with a paying adult.

Lunch will be included. Donations are tax deductible, with proceeds to benefit Steps to HOPE, Polk Countys shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

For more information, visit:, or call 828-894-5332.