Spokane equestrian rider's Olympic dream hits snag after false sponsorship

(STORY IMAGE:KHQ.COM)

SPOKANE, Wash. -Cheyenne doesn't have a lot of luxuries in life. But one thing she does have is her horse, Benjamin.

"I've started riding him in January, and we've built on from there," Cheyenne Clark said.

Cheyenne is part of Team Legacy. One of the many equestrian clubs organized by Hearts and Horses, a non-profit, with the mission of giving underprivileged kids the chance to ride.

Cheyenne's dream is making it to the Olympics.

"I've had that dream since I was seven," Cheyenne Clark said.

But dream's aren't enough. A single competition can cost up to a thousand dollars.

"We've been trying to find her a sponsor for years because this gets so expensive," Jina Clark, Cheyenne's mother, said.

Then this summer, a way for Cheyenne to get her shot at glory. Another parent who volunteered at Hearts and Horses said she had lined-up companies willing to pay for Cheyenne and her teammates to compete.

According to this letter from one of the sponsor companies, Equiccessories, all they needed to do was pose with their horses for some pictures, and their expenses would be covered in the future. That letter, included a 40 dollar cash advance for each of the young riders.

"We all believed it, we all thought it was for real," Clark said.

Promises in hand, the girls' families entered a competition. Cheyenne saddled up Benjamin, and won.

"It felt nice," Cheyenne Clark said.

After the competition, the families submitted their expenses.

"There was promises that the funds were coming," Clark said.

But days stretched into weeks, with no sign of the money.

It wasn't until this month that the truth finally came out, there never were any sponsorships.

"To be promised all this money, and then say, nope sorry. It kinda crushed all the kids," Clark said.

Cheyenne and Team Legacy were promised the support of nine companies. KHQ called them all. None of them had heard of Team Legacy, or had agreed to sponsor the girls' competitions. And as for that letter? Equiccessories said they have no idea who wrote it, where the cash came from or how the volunteer obtained it.

"Because of it, they cannot finish out the year because we're all so broke from what she had us do that we normally wouldn't have done," Clark said.

Cheyenne's mom has now started an on-line fundraiser to pay for the final four shows of this season. It's a longshot, but she doesn't want her daughter to give up on her Olympic dream.

"That is where she's going, and God love her, she's gonna make it," Clark said.

KHQ let Hearts and Horses know what about these false sponsorships. They tell us the parent behind the offer is no longer allowed to volunteer at the charity.

But how can you be for sure you have obtained a real sponsorship? Phil Helean, the Executive Director for Spokane Youth Sports says there are some guidelines sponsorships take before signing an agreement.

The sponsor will need a time frame, a dollar amount and how the sponsor will be displayed on the team. Whether it be through jersey's or other advertisements.

And most important – always get any such arrangement, in writing.

If you'd like to help Cheyenne reach her dream, click here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/434417143749089/1941859759167961/

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