by Linda Scrivner

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. -- The Challenge 2005, which is the annual softball game pitting the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association against the Tennessee Walking Horse Youth Association (TWHYA), was held Sun., June 26, 2005 at the H.G. Griffin Park.

This year they raised more than $60,000 for Ellie Jackson, the beautiful six-year-old niece of Knox and Stacy Blackburn. Eillie has been diagnosed with bone cancer and was supposed to go into Vanderbilt early Monday morning for an operation.The surgery was postponed, however, when the bone marrow needed for the operation did not arrive. The surgery will be rescheduled.

The community turned out in droves Sunday, showing their support for the special young lady. There was a silent auction that was held throughout the evening with many stud fees and numerous other items available for bidding. Also, an auction was held during a break in the game and items sold well.

There were two additional challenges set up. The "Private Charter Challenge" stated that Hy Stepping Farms and Rusty Hyneman and Caress Mills would donate $500 for each ball hit over the fence and $100 for each point earned by either team. Many tried hard but no one hit the ball over the fence, although several were close. The teams score 69 combined points during the day.

The "John and Susie Harmon Lowrider Challenger" donated $5 for each ball and $10 for each foul during the game.

The Youth’s team was named Smooth Riders and the trainers were called the Pacers, not by choice, however. Jeff Willis coached the Smooth Riders and Joel Weaver coached the Pacers. Joni Jenne’, TWHBEA Youth Coordinator, worked hard and with the assistance of many others, made the event very successful. The food was also donated, cooked and served by volunteers from the walking horse community for a reasonable price.

At the end of the game, a trophy was awarded to a very dusty and tired, but happy, team of trainers.

Please visit Ellie's web site at


Ellie Jackson and her Dad, Scott threw out the first ball.

Scott,Tilden,Meredith and Ellie Jackson