She's on the contents page for the November 3rd issue of People, the one with Madonna on the cover. Her photo, larger than one of Jennifer Aniston on the same page, features her standing beside Fergie (the horse, not the princess). Fame and a People magazine photo crew descended upon Alison Eastman-Lawler when she was picked as one of the magazine's "Heroes in Hard Times." Her good deed began as a plan to offer pony rides at her Apple Tree Farm boarding and training stable. It was to help out a neighbor struggling with cancer and about to lose his home. Good intentions snowballed and the deed became a community affair. About $8,000 was raised for Kris Beinder and his family and now there are plans to make it an annual event.
Were you close to your neighbors?
Not really. I was aware that Kris was sick and then my sister saw the for sale sign on their house.
Have you done fundraisers at your farm before? Sounds like this one was well planned.
No. I'd always thought that if I'd wanted to do pony rides I could make a decent amount of money. I figured we could raise a few hundred dollars. My sister came up with the idea of adding a yard sale. I sent a note out to all my clients and it took off with everyone offering to do something - bake sale, face painting. The day before I came up with the idea of letting kids decorate their own horseshoes for a few dollars each. We sold a lot of them.
Have you ever needed someone to pull you out of a pinch?
Well, there was the time I had a horse who had a $20,000 vet bill. My family helped out with that.
Any standout moment from the event?
We had people there from 2 years old to 80. Everyone was having a great time. At one point we got Kris on a horse. He hadn't ever ridden before so that was an emotional moment, especially for his family.
What was the photo session like?
I had a make-up person and I had to bring out everything I own to wear. I'm a horse person so I have very few dressy clothes. Then there was this horrible realization that they wanted me in riding pants and boots. I wound up in a suede jacket that I'd never wear in the barn. We used three different horses and probably took 500 photos.
There must have been some funny moments.
Well, when they had put Kris, Katherine and Alek (the baby) up on the horse, the crew and my make up lady - whose name was Bambi; I found that funny - were jumping up and down to try to make the baby smile for the cameraman. It was pretty comical.
Contributions can be made to the Kristopher Beinder Fund, PO Box 153, Hollis, NH 03049.
This article appears in the December 2008 issue of New Hampshire Magazine