REED CITY — More than 250 members of the Michigan Sheriff’s Mounted Association will ride 54 miles on horseback through eight counties to raise money for a young, local cancer survivor.

The Pony Express Ride is an annual fundraiser that provides assistance to a family or individual in need. Members of the MSMA carry letters written from donors across a planned route and receive an official stamp before taking them to a post office.

This year, Hailey Elton, of Reed City, is the chosen recipient. Hailey, 13, a student at Reed City Middle School, has been undergoing treatments for ryabdomyosarcoma, which is a type of cancer that forms in the connective tissue in joints and muscles. She was diagnosed when she was only 22 months old.

Along with cancer treatments, Hailey is a diabetic and had to have half of her right leg amputated. In November, she received a prosthetic and will be in need of physical therapy.

She said being the recipient of the fundraiser makes her happy.

“I feel like there is a lot of people out there that support me and I’m really thankful,” Hailey said.

Throughout her challenges, she has continued to trust in God and keep a positive attitude.

“We’re a family of faith and she’s stayed strong in that,” said her father, Brad Elton. “She grits her teeth and gets through it.”

Hailey said she has felt the loss cancer can create. A friend of hers also with cancer passed away, and a new cause keeps her on the path to a cure.

“I try to fight for her,” she added.

Brad added he and other family members were surprised when notified they would be the benefits of the Pony Express Ride.

“It totally blows me away. We’re very, very thankful,” he said.

Events leading up to the ride will begin at 7 p.m. on June 7 with training, an ice cream social and karaoke. The mounted mail run will begin at 8 a.m. on June 8 and take most of the morning to complete. Once the posse members return to the grounds, there will be a parade, horse show, an evening pot luck, a bag raffle and karaoke.

Osceola County Sheriff’s Posse member Craig Buchholz has been a part of the ride for 25 years and is looking forward to June 8. He said he feels the event is important for numerous reasons, but is most important because it is making a difference in the lives of people in the state.

“I hope it will affect them greatly,” Buchholz added.

Camping on the grounds during the event is also available for $15 per person, $10 for horse stalls and $6 for hay. Restrooms and showers are available.

All donations from the event will benefit the Elton family. For more information, call Short Couture at (231) 832-2441.