Faith Equestrian To Hold 2018 Gala to Support Equine Therapy for Children on Feb. 9
(SAVANNAH, GA) Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center will hold their second annual Hearts for Healing Gala on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. The evening will include dinner, dancing and live music from the John Brackett Quartet. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the silent auction; the reception will begin at 7 p.m.
Faith Equestrian is a non-profit organization founded to improve the quality of life for children with special needs through the therapeutic nature of horses.
“Fundraisers and donations cover all the costs for a child to participate in our program,” said Bonnie Rachael, the program’s founder and executive director. “The Gala is our largest fundraiser and a great way for us to create awareness for our unique program.”
Rachael opened the center in 2006 with only two students, three horses and a $25,000 budget. Today, the program has expanded to serve more than 125 participants from Chatham, Effingham and surrounding counties. It has a $200,000 budget, eleven horses, two instructors and more than 60 volunteers.
The center is accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH, Intl.), which reports some of the benefits of equine assisted activities and therapies on their website (www.pathintl.org).
Faith Equestrian serves children with all types of challenges, including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. Interaction with the horses allows the students to build strength, develop coordination skills, and gain confidence in an outdoor and supportive setting.
Michael, an autistic child whose real name is being withheld to protect the privacy of he and his family, began taking therapeutic riding lessons at Faith Equestrian in 2011 in an effort to improve his attention span, his ability to follow directions, keep calm in new situations, as well as to become able to speak.
Part of Michael’s lesson each week was to encourage speech as part of the therapeutic plan along with following directions of steering the horse. The instructor repeated phrases telling Michael to tell his horse to “walk on” and increased the speed of the horse from a walk to a trot.
“It took 8 months, patience and a horse, for Michael to begin to speak,” said Rachael. “During the normal routine of his riding lesson, he said ‘WALK ON’ himself in a loud voice. Everyone, volunteers and mom alike broke into tears of joy.”
Since that day, Michael has improved cognitively, behaviorally, and physically. He has begun using sign language he has learned, is now beginning to steer his horse and follow the instructor’s directions.
“These are the types of stories that help us know we are changing people’s lives,” said Rachael. “And we need the community to support this powerful program.”
The 2018 Hearts for Healing Gala is sponsored by Savannah Special Events by Ranco, First City Events, Low Country Paper Co., Whitemarsh Beverage, J Thomas Catering, Savannah’s Hall of Cakes, South Magazine and Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
ABOUT FAITH EQUESTRIAN THERAPEUTIC CENTER
Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center, located at 243 Appaloosa Way in Guyton, GA. 31312, exists to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through the power of the horse. The program serves children ages 4 to 18 with all types of challenges including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. The center offers therapeutic riding courses and an equestrian program in partnership with local schools. For more information, visit https://faithetc.org