Mark and Hela Russell

$27,588 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 279 people in 36 months
Anne Marie
on behalf of Hela Russell
 ROANOKE, VA
Mark Russell passionately, progressively and uncompromisingly worked to become a remarkable horseman. He was a teacher whose communication skills transcended the horse and made him a respected, sought after clinician worldwide. His work inspired horses and horse lovers, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." 

On Sunday June 12, Mark was gravely injured doing what he loved best, working with a young horse. Your  prayers and offers of support are heard.  The impact of his immediate loss to the horse world is profound, as is the hardship for his family that will be felt far into the future. We must all come together to show our support for a man who has changed the lives of so many of us forever. 

Please give as generously as Mark has given to you. We do not want his family to have financial worries at a time when they should be focused on healing. 

Please share this link everywhere possible  https://www.gofundme.com/NaturalDressage

100% of these funds will go to Hela Russell

Thank you. Bless you.
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I want to explain where the $100,000 goal came from, why I think it's reachable, and what it's needed for.

I want to start with the most important thing: what it's needed for. I have alluded to the desire to keep Mark's work alive, a vision we all share. As Hela has said, "His wisdom should not die with him." She will do everything possible to see that does not happen. "Lessons in Lightness" is presently out of print. Mark was in the midst of an update, so this was intentional. We are aware of copies being sold online for exorbitant costs. Please, do not feel you need to buy those. Hela is exploring options to reprint the book.

Mark's current DVDs are still available for purchase. There is an archive of footage, some of it quite recent. Hela is hopeful it is sufficient for various future projects and would like to shepherd these to completion. You have been enormously generous in sharing your memories, your photos, your experiences. This abundance has potential for additional ventures. Time is needed to organize and address Mark's legacy in such a way that generations ahead can benefit from his unique perspective. Time and money.

Hela's main job has been to manage Mark's business, which provided 90% of the farm's income. With this revenue source gone, she will need time to redirect her efforts to the projects mentioned above and to establish an alternate livelihood. In the meantime, Mark has seven horses, many of which will be sold or re-homed. This should be done in a mindful manner, and not hurriedly. Anyone who has a horse knows the expense that goes into maintaining one. Anyone who keeps them at home realizes the effort that goes into caring for them. Mark had no life insurance. The medical bills not covered by insurance will be sizable. Three days in intensive care after emergency helicopter transport is enormously costly. Given all this, Hela is handling the events of the past two weeks with enormous grace and composure. But make no mistake, she is reeling from this loss. Now you know some of the what.

Why $100,000? Quite simply, I pulled the number out of the air after some back and forth between friends and students. We wanted to aim high, because we knew the need would be great. We were not wrong. There was some extrapolation of the number of students Mark had, factoring in the followers on his Facebook page, and it felt doable. Given the support in less than two weeks, it still does. While the outpouring of donations is now a trickle, I am optimistic that they will continue. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

So many of you have been exceedingly generous. Thank you. 246 donors have given over $24,000 toward the ultimate goal. As of today, Mark's Facebook page has garnered over 13,000 likes. Conceivably, these represent individuals who stand to benefit from Mark's work far into the future. Can you imagine of each of them made a modest donation? Together, we can make this happen. This page has been shared almost 1600 times. Please continue to post the link for this page everywhere possible. If you have questions, please let me know.

https://www.gofundme.com/NaturalDressage

More soon.


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I do not take lightly the responsibility to "speak" for Hela. Today I am not going to. I am led, almost possessed, to tell you a story. Let me preface by reminding you that sadly, I never had the privilege of working with Mark personally. The extent of our living connection was in a group setting at Mendin' Fences, where I have many times been a Harry Whitney student.

Sundays I attend my "church" which is a recovery meeting. Someone shared getting old was literally a pain, his body was hurting. I immediately became aware of how much tension I felt. I started to consciously notice where that was happening in my body and to try to soften myself. A few shares later someone else lamented his Father's Day visit to his aged Dad, who at 92 still liked to climb on roofs. "I keep telling him, your mind is telling you to do things your body can't handle." It was like a dam burst in me, and my eyes brimmed. What I immediately translated was, "Your body is telling you to do things your mind can't handle," and some pieces began to click into place for me. I was trying to hold back tears, but it was futile. It was as if I could hear the word whisper in my head, BREATHE.

I have experienced some traumatic losses in my life, the latest in April. Coincidentally, I have been in more physical discomfort than ever before. How I managed to dismiss the connection between my body pain and my unexpressed grief I couldn't tell you. Believe me, these are not foreign concepts to me. But you can't know a thing until you know it.

Here is what I know: this week has allowed this teaching to connect with me, where before I could not own it. I know why that is. You know why that is. How will Mark's work live on? It already is.

Thank you for staying with me. I will be sharing more about some plans underway to expand upon Mark's work, made possible because of your generosity here. I had come to think of this as the ministry of the horse. That doesn't quite fit for me now, because it goes so much deeper. Please keep sharing this link, your moments and your memories. They matter.

Anne Marie
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Look at what you've done! In just six days, you have created a fund of over $20,000. The magnitude of this is profound. You are making so many things possible, and I will be sharing some definitive plans shortly. For now, please know that Hela is overcome with gratitude at your continued response. We will extend the campaign as long as necessary. Please continue to post this link wherever possible and most important- sharing your photos, stories, any remembrance you have on the Facebook page, Mark Russell Natural Dressage, or here. Your deeply personal memories keep Mark's work alive for all of us. More on that later, also.

Hela has only had a few days to unpack her sorrow. She is well aware of the strong desire from many to know of her plans for a memorial service. When you lose someone suddenly, particularly a mate, it can impact your ability to be in the world in just about every way. The simplest things can seem insurmountable. You can therefore understand the realization that a public service is too emotionally taxing for her to undertake at this time. Instead, she will hold a small, private gathering on her farm in early July for her local friends and community. She hopes to have a public service in the Fall in New England area, and is counting on help to organize it. Please join me in respecting her choice to grieve privately with a chosen few at this time.

You're the reason Mark's work continues. Thank you is too small a word.

Anne Marie
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This is by far the most difficult update to write. I want to convey something sacred on Hela's behalf. All of us are struggling to make sense of what happened this week. Those who were present share an additional burden of grief. We will all find peace and healing in our own way. Many of you have expressed concern for the horse, the owner, the clinic participants on Sunday. Hela's compassionate heart hurts for them all. She is finding solace in the belief that Mark's living mission here was truly completed. She would ask that you honor this horse as the chosen vessel by which Mark's transition occurred, and deserving of your healing energy.

It will take time for our collective sadness to subside to a tolerable level. May you be comforted in the belief there is a greater plan, beyond today's comprehension, and it is born of this loss.

Hela, I pray that I have done justice to your heart this evening.

Anne Marie
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Read a Previous Update
Holly Borden
36 months ago
6
6

Anne Marie, losing this obviously wonderful man is devastating, but I have also been heartbroken thinking about the horse and the owner of the horse that Mark was riding. Thank you so much for relaying Helga's message regarding them. What a beautiful, beautiful sentiment and I hope it is a comfort to the horse's owner.

+ Read More
Kathy Davis Baker
36 months ago
4
4

Anne Marie you write eloquently and from the heart, you did a find job sharing on Hela's behalf.

+ Read More
Christine Drohan
36 months ago
1
1

Mark has left his everlasting gift of knowledge, grace, and love for horses and for humankind. My daughter Hilary Martin, is forever blessed to have basked in Mark's light ooxx

+ Read More
Joanne Neils
36 months ago
1
1

Please provide the information for the New England memorial. Thank you

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Stephanie T. Haymaker
36 months ago

Thank you Anne Marie for keeping us updated and encouraged. You are doing a beautiful work for Hela and Mark.

+ Read More
Chip Beckett
36 months ago

Please let me know of memorial plans as they are developed.

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Maria Mackenzie-cann
36 months ago

Anne Marie your message is consoling. Thank you.

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Ann Dupuis
36 months ago

I would like to be informed of the memorial in New England, please.

+ Read More
Stephanie T. Haymaker
36 months ago

Hela, you and your family are in our prayers. May you feel God's mighty love, peace and strength all around you.

+ Read More
Renee Joan
36 months ago

May God bless you and strengthen you at this very sad time.

+ Read More
Emily Osborne
36 months ago

Please let us know about the TN date and we will be glad to organize it or help in any way you need us to

+ Read More
Jodie Sinclair
36 months ago

I would love to get details for the service in New England. Thank you.

+ Read More
Carla Ball
36 months ago

I will appreciate knowing the dates of both services. Thank you.

+ Read More
Trish Hug
36 months ago

I would like to be informed of the dates and locations of both memorials, please. Surely I can get to one or the other.

+ Read More

$27,588 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 279 people in 36 months
Created June 13, 2016
Anne Marie
on behalf of Hela Russell
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$150
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23 months ago
$100
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32 months ago
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32 months ago
$70
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33 months ago
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$500
Richard Burrell
33 months ago
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$25
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33 months ago
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33 months ago
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$100
Joan Denton
35 months ago
$100
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35 months ago
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$100
Victoria Dwight
35 months ago
Holly Borden
36 months ago
6
6

Anne Marie, losing this obviously wonderful man is devastating, but I have also been heartbroken thinking about the horse and the owner of the horse that Mark was riding. Thank you so much for relaying Helga's message regarding them. What a beautiful, beautiful sentiment and I hope it is a comfort to the horse's owner.

+ Read More
Kathy Davis Baker
36 months ago
4
4

Anne Marie you write eloquently and from the heart, you did a find job sharing on Hela's behalf.

+ Read More
Christine Drohan
36 months ago
1
1

Mark has left his everlasting gift of knowledge, grace, and love for horses and for humankind. My daughter Hilary Martin, is forever blessed to have basked in Mark's light ooxx

+ Read More
Joanne Neils
36 months ago
1
1

Please provide the information for the New England memorial. Thank you

+ Read More
Stephanie T. Haymaker
36 months ago

Thank you Anne Marie for keeping us updated and encouraged. You are doing a beautiful work for Hela and Mark.

+ Read More
Chip Beckett
36 months ago

Please let me know of memorial plans as they are developed.

+ Read More
Maria Mackenzie-cann
36 months ago

Anne Marie your message is consoling. Thank you.

+ Read More
Ann Dupuis
36 months ago

I would like to be informed of the memorial in New England, please.

+ Read More
Stephanie T. Haymaker
36 months ago

Hela, you and your family are in our prayers. May you feel God's mighty love, peace and strength all around you.

+ Read More
Renee Joan
36 months ago

May God bless you and strengthen you at this very sad time.

+ Read More
Emily Osborne
36 months ago

Please let us know about the TN date and we will be glad to organize it or help in any way you need us to

+ Read More
Jodie Sinclair
36 months ago

I would love to get details for the service in New England. Thank you.

+ Read More
Carla Ball
36 months ago

I will appreciate knowing the dates of both services. Thank you.

+ Read More
Trish Hug
36 months ago

I would like to be informed of the dates and locations of both memorials, please. Surely I can get to one or the other.

+ Read More
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