Therapeutic riding group honors volunteers
Circling the Square
By Ceci Clover, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: September 19, 2012
Jackson Hole Therapeutic Riding Association was founded in 1993 with a couple of horses and a handful of volunteers. Its aim: to harness the unique bond between horse and rider with the goal of empowering disabled riders with confidence, strength and independence.
Today, the nonprofit maintains 16 horses and serves 80 riders a week from May to October with the help of 123 volunteers. The therapeutic riding association serves all ages — the range is 3 to 68 right now — regardless of economic status. Its mission is to encourage the natural relationship between horse and rider resulting in the rider’s improved physical and emotional well being.
Therapeutic riding held its volunteer appreciation dinner Sept. 12 at the Old Wilson Schoolhouse Community Center. The Mardi Gras-themed evening provided the opportunity for volunteers, staff and board members to mingle, get to know one another and put faces to names. The organization also presented the following volunteer honors:
Humanitarian Awards went to Snake River Ranch and Lance Johnsen. The All Heart Award went to Seadar Davis, the Energizer Bunny Award to Jane Botsford and the Here to Serve Award to Barb McPeak. The Go-Getter Award went to Sharon Schmidt, the Making a Difference Award to Christi Biolchini and the Ray of Sunshine Award to Carole-Malia Schneider. Toby Biolchini was Rookie of the Year, and Richard Rice was Team Player.
The To the Rescue Award went to Maureen Flanagan, the Making Memories Award to Laura Shervin and the Got Talent Award to Greg Charles. Jenny Hansen was honored with a W.I.N. Award (willing, informed, never late), and Jochen Grocke earned the Reliable with a Smile Award. Greer Terry was dubbed Positive Polly, Brett Grissom Queen Bee and Mary Cutler Humble Helper. Patty Chapman earned an award for being loyal, Andrea Billingsley for being devoted and Jim Russell for being the hardest worker.
Ernie Rodriguez received the “Whatever you Need” Award, Raylene Scholtens the Heart of Compassion Award, and Robyn Reedy the Role Model Award. Martha VanGenderen was honored as the volunteer with the most years helping the nonprofit.
Cameron Monasmith took home the Dede McDonald Award, named after therapeutic riding’s physical therapist and co-founder. This award recognizes a volunteer who sees each rider’s ability and not his or her disability. This volunteer has a heart of gold; anyone can see that serving others is second nature to her.
Tom Brewer got the Robin Lightner Award for the volunteer who is most generous with his time and inspires others with his genuine compassion. Robin is a true go-getter and is a co-founder of the therapeutic riding association. Its indoor arena is named after this hardworking and generous horsewoman.
Deb Lundy was awarded the Elaine Infanger Award, which is given to a volunteer who shows a desire to serve and who has a natural initiative for helping others. Elaine is a co-founder of the association and the parent of a rider. She is known for showing great concern for others’ needs and taking the initiative to address those needs.
This year’s Sonny Petersen Award went to Hans Petersen. Hans has volunteered for therapeutic riding for two years and spends about 25 hours a week helping with one program or another. Last winter, he built a new room for the instructors, volunteering his carpentry skills and time to create a private place for physical therapists and instructors. His selflessness is inspiring. He has helped with “Horse-Leader Training” for volunteers, explaining horse behaviors and proper ways to lead a horse, and, best of all, he is able to explain how to respect and communicate with horses. Hans’ naturally patient and kind demeanor is an excellent example to everyone. He is studying to become a certified therapeutic riding instructor so he can continue his remarkable impact on the lives of the riders. He has worked with a rider named Sam who has made great progress with Hans at his side. Sam rarely utters a word, but because Hans is so dedicated and patient, they have developed a great trusting relationship. Hans’ heart is intricately connected to the mission of therapeutic riding, and the nonprofit is fortunate to know him not only as a volunteer but as a friend.
The 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award went to Whitney Goodrum. Whitney has been a loyal volunteer for the past four years. One of the great attributes she brings to the program is her intuition. If rider need someone to listen to their problems, she gives them her ear, and if they need encouragement, she is their cheerleader. Whitney is a ray of sunshine to everyone when she walks through the barn door.
Saving the best for last, Jackson Hole Therapeutic Riding Association’s 2012 volunteer king and queen are Steve and Sue Morriss.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––Ceci Clover writes weekly on the doings and doers in and around Jackson Hole. Submissions may be sent to email@example.com or call 307-733-8348.