Getting injured, stuck, or lost while traveling through the Black Hills can be scary. If something happens in Custer State Park, it's the the volunteer search and rescue team who responds to those calls.
"We're one of the more active ones in the state we believe. We respond to over 40 calls a year," said Lesa McDermott, a Custer State Park Search and Rescue member.
The team consists of 20 active volunteers. "We never charge for our services, it's all volunteer and it's all free," said McDermott.
But funding a rescue team is not free. That's why the newly formed 'Friends of Custer State Park Search and Rescue' threw a horseback riding and barbeque fundraiser. "We came out to support the rural search and rescues, or any entities that have volunteers that provide services to the community," said Debra White, a rider in the event. "Because we know that there's limited funding to keep monies coming into these agencies."
Debrah White has been riding horses for 20 years, and although she's ridden in Custer State Park, she's never been on the 8 mile loop mapped out for the fundraiser. "Then you come off this hill and you look out across the park and it was just beautiful and stunning. We were very impressed with this ride."
White says when she first arrived there were only about 5 vehicles, but things changed Saturday afternoon. "When we got back we saw all the vehicles here we were really surprised," said White. The good turnout was appreciated by McDermott. "We're hoping to get over 100, and right now we're at about 80, but trailers are still rolling in and people are starting to arrive for lunch," said McDermott.
With the $15 entry fee, $8 lunch, and selling of T–shirts, McDermott says she hopes they raise $4,000 to $5,000 dollars to maintain or buy equipment.