The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Rylie's Ride honors loved one, funds scholarship


P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

AT A Saturday fundraiser at the Iron County Fairgrounds in Saxon, from left, Shelly Braver and her horse, Lady, are ready to ride with Pat McCullough and her horse, Star, in memory of the late Rylie Jo Ludtke, who died in 2014.


Saxon - On June 16, 2014, Rylie Jo Ludtke had finished her driver's education lesson. She then used her 4-wheeler to go and feed her beloved horses, Husker and Blu (she playfully preferred the spelling without an "e").

Jayme Tamble, Rylie's mom, said nobody knows what happened that day: Maybe an unexpected deer ran by. Maybe Rylie turned her head at an inopportune time. Whatever it was took her life in a flash.

Rylie, of Kimball, was barely 15 years old when she died more than 3 years ago, and her passing broke a lot of hearts.

"She loved everybody, and everybody loved her," said her dad, Shawn Ludtke. "There wasn't an animal that didn't love her. She loved everybody and everything. I would have loved to see what she would have done with her life."

According to her mother, Rylie had intended to become an equine massage therapist, which would have allowed her to relieve the pain of work horses, race horses, or those with arthritis.

Now, Rylie's dreams have instead transmuted to other teens, via a series of charitable events that have been organized by her loved ones.

On Saturday, at the Iron County Fairgrounds in Saxon, they sponsored "Rylie's Ride" as a means to raise funds for a scholarship to go to one of Hurley High School's graduating seniors.

Everyone was welcome at the equine event. And as soon as anyone emerged from his or her vehicle, Shane Ludtke's dog, Liberty, acted as a happy ambassador, greeting all arrivals and graciously accepting pats.

Rylie's friends and family registered participants and handed out "Rylie's Ride" T-shirts. The approximately 2-hour ride started at 11 a.m., with Kayla Subert acting as trail boss. She also cleared and designed the trail that was used.

After the ride, there was food off the grill and a number of items were auctioned, including hand-crafted lawn furniture, a portable grill, a 55-inch TV, a trailer full of fire wood, and many other smaller items.

Lake Effect, a local band, played. Games such as horseshoes and a corn hole tournament added to the day. Some folks even stayed in campers on the site.

Saturday's timing was special for Rylie's dad, who said his own father, Gene Ludtke, had just died a couple weeks ago.

"They did everything together," he said, "Didn't matter, everything!" He said that his dad died with a card and photo from Rylie on his bedside table. "They're together now."

No ride took place last year due to flooding in Saxon, but the first "Rylie's Ride" garnered funds for both the Amazing Grace Equine Rescue and for scholarships. A later 5K run added more revenue.

Next year, Rylie's mom hopes to have a "poker run," with participants using 4-wheelers to travel from one place to another, followed by a potluck meal.

Tamble said she wanted any charitable event planned to be all about activities that Rylie "loved to do."


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