EQUUS Foundation

EQUUS Foundation "CHAMPION" Volunteers - Getting Far More Than They Give!

WESTPORT, CT - July 27, 2013 - "I have to say that I started volunteering to get 'my horse fix', but now I do it for the clients. The fact that I get to be around horses is a bonus," said Jeffrey Grossman, an EQUUS Foundation "Champion" randomly selected to receive one of five $250 gift certificates for Ariat boots for their volunteer service in the second quarter of 2013 as part of the EQUUS Foundation "CHAMPIONS" program sponsored by Ariat International.

Patti Andersen

Patti Andersen

Saturday Volunteer Group: Row one left to right: Patti Andersen (wearing sunglasses), Daphane Gibbens & Emily Ayres (on ground); Row two left to right : Mr. Gibbens, Deborah Gibbens, Daphane Gibbens, Lauren Seldes, Nancy Mackenzie, Bill Waugaman, Erin Nougaret, Lynn Schollins, Jessica Dailey and Steve Kien; Row three left to right standing: Lauren Kinsey and George Capuzello; Missing is Eileen Clark & Susan Eison. Photo by Sophie O'Leary.

Patti volunteers for Heroes on Horseback in Bluffton, South Carolina, a charity providing equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for children with mental and physical disabilities. "Unfortunately, these children have not had the full childhood experience of being able to choose the sport of their choice," said Andersen, however, when they are up on a horse they feel as though they are in control for the first time in their lives." Patti loves volunteering during the school year on Saturday mornings and has formed great relationship with the children and the other volunteers who enjoy this program as much as she does.

Patti started volunteering at Heroes on Horseback after moving to South Carolina and far away from her two grandchildren who suffer from Autism Spectrum disorder that she missed so much. She wanted to feel like she was making a difference in the lives of children with Autism and other disabilities and where she could help disabled children find joy in something they love. She found just that at Heroes on Horseback.

"There is nothing like seeing children go from not talking, to laughing and having full conversations with their classmates and other volunteers," said Andersen. "People come in and out of our lives but it is our choice to make a difference in those we come in contact with. Patti's commitment to volunteering has shown how just one person can encourage a disabled child to feel they have the power and strength to do everything their peers can do.

Jill Davis
Jill Davis with Lily and Sparky

Jill Davis

Jill Davis volunteers for Parkwood Farms Therapy Center in Snellville, Georgia. She regularly leads one of the weekly sessions, assists in providing trail riding and therapy for children with special needs, and attends to the social media needs of the farm.

Working at Parkwood Farms has given her the quality horse time she has always wanted. She thinks there is nothing more fulfilling than working with the children. There are few happier moments than watching their confidence and skills develop on the back of a horse.

She grew up in the Denver Metro Area and now lives in Loganville, Georgia. She is currently a married, stay at home mother of three and an avid knitter.

Jill was not able to spend as much time with horses as she wanted to as a child, but is making up for that now. She believes volunteering in this way has changed her view of the world.

Jeffrey Grossman

Jeffrey Grossman
Jeffrey Grossman leading one of the Hoofbeats' horses, Commander.

Jeffrey Grossman is a volunteer with Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center in Lexington, Virginia. Grossman, a retired business executive, took up riding after retiring in 2006. It wasn't long before, Grossman and his wife purchased their own horse, an Arabian named Ebby. "He was the perfect horse!" said Grossman.

"We enjoyed riding and taking care of him, and did so until we moved from Santa Monica, California to Lexington, Virginia at the end of 2009." Since Ebby was older, and he had lived on the same ranch his entire life, the Grossmans gave Ebby to their instructor to use for lessons with her more advanced riders, and visit him when they go back to California.

Having moved to Lexington, Grossman looked for ways to reconnect with horses again and signed up as a volunteer at Hoofbeats. That was four years ago. He just enjoys helping by mounting and dismounting physically challenged riders, grooming and tacking up the Hoofbeats' horses as well as sidewalking and leading horses - whatever is needed.

Danielle Kimmel
Danielle Kimmel with Rolex, one of the horses at Special Equestrians.

Danielle Kimmel

Danielle Kimmel has been a volunteer at Special Equestrians in Warrington, Pennsylvania, since 2005. She helps with lessons, barn work and special events, including the student horse shows.

"I'm an animal lover," said Kimmel. I grew up with a variety of pets and fostered cats and dogs until they found their forever homes." Kimmel grew up in Philadelphia and was part of a team that cared for the school horses at Manor College in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, later graduating from Drexel University with a degree in Accounting.

Kimmel now lives with her husband and beagle in Bensalem and works as a CPA in the finance department of Bensalem Township.

Master Sergeant Mark Ruprecht USAF
"I wish I had more time to devote to Free Rein Therapeutic Riding.
It is a great program providing a great service."

MSgt Mark Ruprecht USAF
MSgt Mark Ruprecht USAF with Harley at Free Rein Therapeutic Riding Center

MSgt Mark Ruprecht, USAF, makes the time in his demanding schedule working on active duty in the U.S. Air Force to volunteer for Free Rein Therapeutic Riding Center in Spokane, Washington. Married for 11 years with a nine month old daughter, Mark recalls, "I first started riding horses regularly while dating my wife Amy.

A couple of years after they were married, Amy was diagnosed with a condition that left her in a wheelchair and her balance left her unable to ride. Mark set out to find a place for Amy to ride a horse as an anniversary present. "I believe it topped the list of anniversary presents I’ve given her." And, Mark became a dedicated volunteer.

When the Air Force transferred Mark to Spokane, he looked for another riding center and found Free Rein Therapeutic Riding. Now both Amy and Mark volunteer at Free Rein and Amy is also a rider in the program. Mark volunteers as a side walker and a horse leader. Mark also works in the Wounded Warrior Project horsemanship program at Free Rein. "We are helping military personnel deal with injuries and emotional trauma through this horsemanship program."

CHAMPIONS is the EQUUS Foundation's incentive-based equine service volunteer program sponsored by Ariat International to recognize and reward individuals and organizations on the carrots4acause network.

It's easy to become a CHAMPION, an individual must log a minimum of 24 volunteer hours from January 1st to December 31st. The volunteer hours will be verified by the organization and The EQUUS Foundation.

To learn more about the Champions program, visit https://www.equusfoundation.org/champions.php.


About The EQUUS Foundation

The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, is dedicated to ensuring the well-being of horses, fostering the horse-human bond, advancing the therapeutic use of horses for those in need, and educating the public about the horse's unique ability to power, teach and heal. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: (203) 259-1550, E-Mail: mail@equusfoundation.org, Website: www.equusfoundation.org.

About Ariat International

Ariat International, Inc. is the leading manufacturer of innovative performance equestrian footwear, apparel and belts. Featuring a patented technology designed to deliver stability, durability and comfort, Ariat pioneered the application of advanced athletic shoe technology into English riding boots and authentic Western boots. Ariat products are sold in a network of retail outlets throughout the world. For more information about Ariat products or for the Ariat retailer nearest you, contact Ariat at 800.899.8141 or visit www.ariat.com.