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Girl organizes fundraiser for horse rescue
From left, Farida Testa and her 10-year-old daughter Hannah discuss plans for a movie-night fundraiser at Save the Horses with owner Cheryl Flanagan. The facility is a horse rescue operation near the Forsyth border with Cherokee County. - photo by Crystal Ledford

 If you’re going

* What: Movie night fundraiser for Save the Horses

* When: 6:30 p.m. Friday; movie starts at dusk

* Where: Save the Horses, 1768 Newt Green Road

* Cost: $5 for adults; $3 for children

* For more information about Save the Horses rescue farm, visit

Hannah Testa may just be 10 years old, but she tries to live by some grown-up philosophies.

One of her favorites, she said, is to “be the change you want to see in the world,” and another is to “be a voice for the voiceless.”

The Kelly Mill Elementary fifth-grader has been doing both in recent weeks as she organizes a fundraiser for Save the Horses, an equine rescue facility on the Forsyth-Cherokee county line.

The fundraiser will feature an outdoor showing of the American Girl Doll production, “Saige Paints the Sky.” The movie will begin at dusk Friday and other activities at 6:30 p.m. on the farm, 1768 Newt Green Road.

The event will also offer tours of the rescue facility, raffles, arts and crafts activities and refreshments for sale.

Testa said she was inspired to hold the movie night for the farm after attending another fundraiser at the facility a few weeks ago.

“A lady gave us a tour of the farm and showed us some of the horses and I felt pretty sad,” Testa said. “I wanted to try and help them earn some money since I heard their bill.”

Testa said monthly expenses can run between $10,000 and $12,000 at the facility, which houses as many as 70 horses at a time.

“And that can be even higher if one is sick and they have to give it special care,” Testa added.

Save the Horses founder and operator Cheryl Flanagan said she was deeply touched by the young girl’s generosity.

“It’s just incredible,” she said. “It really renews your faith in children and humanity. It’s so nice because she’s done so much already.”

Flanagan said the farm has been saving horses locally since 1996, although she has been involved with horse rescue in other parts of the country her entire life. The 60-acre facility operates solely on donations and through the efforts of many volunteers.

Friday’s event is $5 for adults and $3 for children, who are encouraged to bring their American Girl Dolls if they wish. Everyone is asked to wear close-toed shoes, and lawn chairs or blankets should also be brought for viewing the film.

Testa said she’s hoping a lot of children her age attend since there will be plenty of fun.

“Our neighbor is bringing a big blow-up movie screen, we’re going to have a bake sale, snow cones and many activities,” she said. “Miss Cheryl is going to dress up like the woman in the movie and one of the horses here looks just like the horse in the movie, so people can have their pictures taken with them.”

The fundraiser isn’t Testa’s first endeavor into supporting causes that help animals.

She’s also the outreach director for North America, an executive board position for One More Generation, or OMG, a nonprofit created by a brother and sister duo from Fayetteville that works to preserve endangered species.

This spring, Testa organized an event to support OMG at her home after learning of their efforts to end the poaching of rhinos. The founders attended and were so impressed they asked her to join their board.

Since then, she pledged to collect some 500 signatures on a petition to send to President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to help stop poaching of the animals.

Later this year, she likely will travel to South Africa with other OMG representatives to deliver those petitions, for which she has collected more than 1,700 signatures.

She said she is a strong proponent of helping animals since they often can’t help themselves.

“I think it’s a given that if [species] are not here, that’s going to change our whole world because every animal has a part in the world,” she said. “I want to help make sure more animals are here for the future.”