Girl rides along Northrop for veterans

Twelve-year-old plans to ride all over the state this summer to raise money for a ranch for soldiers.

A 12-year-old on horseback, flanked by two University of Minnesota police officers, stood out from the students on foot treading along the Northrop Mall on Tuesday afternoon. But E’leese Madgett-ManriqueâÄôs laps around the mall area are nothing compared to her planned trip around the state this summer. EâÄôleese, alongside her horse Chips NâÄô Salsa, spoke at Northrop on Tuesday about her plans to travel across Minnesota to raise money to build a ranch for soldiers returning from war. EâÄôleese will begin her summer-long ride June 6 to raise money for The Ranch, a place where returning veterans can stay to âÄúrecover and heal for free,âÄù Kerry Madgett, EâÄôleeseâÄôs mother, said. Last summer, EâÄôleese traveled more than 1,000 miles around the state in 86 days, raising about $15,000 for the ranch. âÄúThis is not pro-war, this is not anti-war,âÄù EâÄôleese said at Northrop Tuesday. âÄúIâÄôm not a Republican or a Democrat, IâÄôm 12. I just want to give our soldiers a place to stay.âÄù The pair said that their goal is $16 million to build the ranch, however they know that number could be out of reach. Madgett said they came up with the $16 million goal after repeated requests. âÄúThey donâÄôt even have a final cost for the Twins ballpark, and they expect a Mom from Plymouth to know how much it costs to build a ranch,âÄù she said. They calculated the number by taking the price of a cup of coffee âÄî $3 âÄî multiplied by the population of Minnesota. But this summer, they are just looking to get the word out and raise any money they can. âÄúLast summer EâÄôleese put on more miles than she had planned,âÄù Madgett said. âÄúThis is our PR summer.âÄù They are also promoting a bill facing the Minnesota Legislature that would provide the family with 1,000 acres to build the ranch. Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, brought the bill forward. Anderson said they are looking into ways they can get a portion of the stateâÄôs surplus land to use for the ranch at no cost to the state. Anderson said she still wants to work on the bill further this year and bring it to the House again next year. The Ranch is planned to have about 50 cabins âÄî one representing each state âÄî where returning soldiers can stay for free in one-week increments. John Zillhardt, a staff member of the University ROTC program , said the idea is unique because it would provide veterans the chance to relax or be active on the ranch. Zillhardt said facilities like The Ranch are important for returning veterans, as some have trouble assimilating back into society. âÄúItâÄôs not just about having trouble finding employment,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs hard to relate to life here âĦ a lot of veterans question who they are and their role in society.âÄù Rich Yaeger, a University first year, served two terms in Iraq before he started taking classes. Yaeger said he knows a lot of fellow soldiers who have a hard time going from structured military life back to âÄúreality.âÄù Cedric Gilbert-Rolfe, a history sophomore, stopped by the event Tuesday out of curiosity. Gilbert-Rolfe offered up a $10 donation to the mother-daughter duo. âÄúIt just seems like a genuinely altruistic thing to do,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs a bit refreshing.âÄù