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Weaver headlines Saddle Up fundraiser
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Ryan Weaver
PINELLAS PARK – Country music artist Ryan Weaver will perform as part of a event to raise funds for Pinellas Park’s Saddle Up Riding Club.

The 2013 Saddle Up Casino Night will be Friday, Feb. 22, at Mainsail Conference Center, 5108 Eisenhower Blvd., Tampa.

The event will include a complimentary cocktail hour from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., followed by live music, gaming and dinner from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Tickets are $75. Visit www.saddleupridingclub.org.

According to Weaver Country Management, Ryan is a “high energy, all-American, rockin’ country music artist who proudly served as an active duty soldier” in the United States Army.

According to his website, Ryan was adopted at 10 months of age, along with his older brother Aaron, by the Weaver family. He grew up living all over the state of Florida, one of eight siblings, and the youngest of three Weaver boys. Older brothers Steve and Aaron joined the military and attended flight school. When his time came, Ryan followed in their shoes.

Each Weaver brother became a helicopter pilot.

Ryan’s brother Aaron died in 2004 when his Black Hawk was shot down by enemy fire in Iraq. At that time, Ryan also was deployed in Iraq as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

While, he certainly understood mortality and the risks of combat, when Aaron died, something changed for Ryan. He returned from combat and took a position training the next generation of Army aviators and officers at Fort Rucker, Ala., and has not piloted a Black Hawk since that fateful day.

In 2004, Ryan attended a Jeffrey Steele concert at a local Alabama club. During Steele’s show, the artist performed a song titled “Nineteen,” about a boy who joins the military and dies in combat at the age of 19. The song touched Ryan and he shared his personal story with Steele when he met him in the autograph line after the show.

In 2007, Ryan began traveling to Nashville on a regular basis to write and record his music. It was on one of those trips to Music City that Ryan re-connected with Steele.

“I scheduled a meeting with Jeffrey Steele,” said Weaver on his website. “He recalled meeting me at that concert in Alabama and remembered my story.”

Steele not only remembered Ryan … he agreed to produce him.

The first song they recorded together was “Nineteen.”

These days, Ryan spends his time writing and recording music, as well as performing at fairs, festivals and clubs in the Southeastern United States.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Saddle Up Riding Club. The club is an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults – both able-bodied and disabled – through equine therapy and direct interaction with horses.

The club is a member center of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, which provides structured horseback riding sessions to children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. The club’s instructors are nationally certified in therapeutic riding through PATH International and all volunteers and horses have been carefully selected and trained for their roles.

Saddle Up Riding Club and their equine assistants offers a variety of community outreach programs such as:

• Equine Assisted Therapy – Riders with disabilities (autism, ADD, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Asperger’s, traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorders) attend sessions where equine friends are used as a tool for therapy.

• Saddle Up For Heroes – Any active military personnel or veterans and their families are welcome free of charge to participate in this therapeutic program.

• Saddle Up Equestrian Team – An integrated team of able and disabled shows, including Special

Olympics and Paralympics.

• Saddle Up Riding Club – Hands on programs teach riding safety, basic equine care, handling and horsemanship to children ages 6 to 18.
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