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UPHA Alvin Ruxer Lifetime Commitment and ASHA Wing Commander Meda: Helen Rich and Ali Degray

Helen & Ali. You don’t even have to mention last names to know who we are talking about. This mother/daughter duo has been involved in the show horse industry for over 20 years and has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to UPHA’s and ASHA’s mission, members, goals and programs. 

Helen likes to have a good time. Fortunately for us, she loves to see everyone else have a good time too. As a major supporter of the UPHA Convention for a number of years, we’ve enjoyed her fabulous welcome parties and entertainment. 

Nancy Becker says, “I’ve personally had the distinct pleasure of working with Helen and Ali and there is not one area of this sport these two haven’t touched. The fact that they have done it so well is why we are here tonight. Their impact on our industry goes far beyond the measure of World and National Championships, and I am so very proud and grateful to call the two of them my friends.” 

Horse shows across the country benefit from their support and hospitality as well. They are major benefactors for their hometown UPHA Chapter 16 shows, many years being the ones that kept them afloat. Beyond their local chapter, they give generously to Blue Ridge Classic, Cleveland Tri-State Charity, Shelbyville, Southern Saddlebred Fall Finale and the World’s Championship, to name a few. 

“Everyone works so hard, shows so hard, and is so serious about competing,” Helen said. “It’s nice to see people lighten up and enjoy themselves.” On why she has focused so much of her support on UPHA functions, she says “UPHA represents everything I believe in.”  

She’s branched out to some other breeds and disciplines recently and while she enjoys those horses and ponies, “Some of those people spend a tremendous amount of calories keeping their butt cheeks clenched together,” she reports, while the Saddlebred and Hackney folks are “happy, accepting, and simply more fun”.

Ali is following in her mother’s philanthropic footsteps and is just beginning her “lifetime giving career” as a newly elected member of the ASHA Board of Directors and supporter of the American Saddlebred Museum.  “I feel like I’ve been ‘getting’ for 22 years now and it is time for me to start giving back,” she says. She will no doubt bring refreshing, new ideas to the table and serve as an awesome role model for her generation, as well as those to follow.

Their love of the breeds and all animals runs deep and their love of the people involved in the sport is a close second. They have done so much for so many, whether it be associations or individuals. While their caring nature is a huge asset, it is the fun-loving attitude that they bring to the show ring and all that they do that makes them the poster family for why we should show horses and ponies.

Finally, a word from someone who knows their dedication to this industry as well as anyone, Tammy DeVore. “To know Helen and Ali is to love them. Five years ago, our lifelong friendship began. These awards highlight all the good that Helen and Ali do for this business; however, I would like to take a minute to tell you about a part of them that most people may not know. 

Helen and Ali both have an incomprehensible compassion for each of their animals. The relationship between both women and their equine partners is a love and a partnership that most people only dream to have. What they do is truly for the love of the horse. Helen and Ali, your commitment to me and my family is second to none and I could not be more proud to be here with you as you receive these awards.”  

Congratulations to Helen Rich and Ali DeGray for receiving the UPHA Alvin C. Ruxer Lifetime Commitment Award and the ASHA Wing Commander Medal.

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