Now in its 12th year, the Teri Davis Patane Memorial Horse Camp for Kids is giving children a chance to fall in love with horses, just as Teri did more than a decade ago.
At 32 years old, Teri died from complications related to systemic lupus – a chronic, autoimmune disease – five months after giving birth to her daughter Jacqueline.
Searching for a suitable way to pay homage to his daughter, whom he raised from the time she was a teenager after he and her mother divorced, Lon Davis brainstormed with her friends, husband and brother and founded the Teri Davis Patane Memorial Horse Camp for Kids in 2000.
Approximately 12 years later, the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree.
Jacqueline is now being groomed to become a junior camp counselor, according to Kristine Scopazzi, one of three directors who oversees the nonprofit.
Having stayed with the program for all 12 years and counting, Scopazzi is always touched by the relationship that develops between the campers and their mounts.
“A lot of these kids come from really troubled backgrounds,” she noted. “By having those horses respond to them, it gives the kids power. I really like seeing that they can control something in their lives. It’s good to see.”
Teri Davis Patane entered her first equestrian show at 4 years old, and for the next 28 years, horses were her constant companion. The Live Oak High School graduate went on to earn degrees in science from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and San Jose State University, and worked in chemical control for the City of Gilroy.
The organization that sprang up in Teri’s honor caters to children between the ages of 8 and 12 – the majority of whom have never touched a horse, let alone ride one. Campers are given the opportunity to spend the week at the overnight camp held at the home Teri and her husband, Carmen Patane, bought 14 years ago on Holsclaw Road in Gilroy.
A highlight of the camp entails a trail ride into Henry Coe State Park, where the group spends three days camping before returning home.
Between wildlife sightings (including an overnight visit from a raccoon who broke into the campers’ trash and had a field day), fishing, nature hikes, watching the meteor shower and a late afternoon horseback ride amid beautiful scenery, Scopazzi said the six children who embarked on this year’s excursion had a blast.
For more information or to donate to the Teri Patane Memorial Horse Camp for Kids, call 408-778-2525 or 408-842-0004.