We ask all of our Quality of Life grantees to report back to us with how their grant was used exactly. Every now and then an email gets forwarded to me from a grantee that goes above and beyond to tell us how well their grant was used. Here's a letter and note from Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy who received a Quality of Life grant in 2012. Read on below:
I just had to share with you the progress that the riders at Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy are making, thanks to the 2012 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
First there's Ed, injured in a motor vehicle accident at the age of 18. When Ed awoke from his 90 day coma, the head trauma and ataxia he had experienced left him generally aware and alert but unable to speak clearly, maintain his balance, or walk unassisted. But Ed’s face brightens whenever he arrives at Hope Springs. We received the attached note from Ed's family - a touching testimonial of the power of equestrian therapy. Through his weekly program of riding and grooming, Ed not only experiences great joy, but obvious physical improvements, including increasingly better balance and greater strength.
Next is Cecelia. She experienced a traumatic brain injury after falling from a horse while working at a race track 25 years ago. Cecelia is able to communicate well, but does have cognitive impairment that affects her thinking, level of understanding, and attitude. For Cecelia, one of the biggest benefits of equestrian therapy is how good it makes her feel- how it lifts her spirits and enhances her social skills. She's also seeing improvements in balance and body awareness.
And then there’s Bob, involved in a motor vehicle accident as a young man that caused traumatic injury to his cerebral cortex and brainstem. Bob’s poor balance led to a subsequent fall that resulted in quadraparesis.For Bob, getting out of his wheelchair to ride at Hope Springs has improved his spatial awareness, strength, endurance and communication skills.
One of the pieces of equipment that your Quality of Life grant allowed us to buy is a "little Joe" bareback saddle and safety belt that everyone here just loves. The saddle is not only more comfortable for riders with limited mobility such as Ed, Cecelia and Bob; it also makes it so much easier for these riders to get their legs up and over the horse's back while mounting. Our volunteers truly appreciate the many hand-holds on our new safety belt because they can maintain a better grip when providing a little extra support to riders such as Bob whose injuries cause him to lean to one side.
Your Quality of Life grant has had a ripple effect. When we sent out a press release announcing the grant, two local publications and one state-wide publication picked up the story. As a result, we saw a big spike in Facebook views that week - more than 4,000 hits! We also had an increase in the number of people who called to inquire about our services. New riders who have traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries have contacted us as a direct result of seeing that story.
We are delighted to be partnering with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to give so many riders the joy of equestrian therapy and to truly have a positive impact on their quality of life. I look forward to sharing with you even greater progress by our riders & programs when we make our formal report later this year. In the meantime, everyone here at Hopes Springs Equestrian Therapy sends our best wishes and many thanks to all of you!
Jeannie Knowlton, Executive Director and Senior Instructor