October 21, 2016

Therapeutic riding center tops fundraising goal - By Walter Lunt

A Windham therapeutic riding center lived up to its name Saturday when its annual fundraiser topped all previous years between sponsorships, ticket sales, volunteer hours and donations.

With the goal of continued funding for its grounds and equine assisted activities, Riding to the Top’s “Party With A Purpose” raised a total of $125,000 during their Triple-B, Boots, Band and BBQ, benefit at the center’s 50-acre riding farm on Lilac Lane in Windham. This year RTT also wanted to make the event more “green.” 

“One of our goals is to practice and model environmental stewardship at the farm,” said executive director Sarah Bronson. “We have installed solar panels and LED lighting, we have our manure composted, and for insect management on the farm we use a natural rosemary-based spray for ticks and fly predators to reduce fly populations. Reducing waste at our events is another way we can be better stewards of the environment at our farm.” This year’s event not only recycled bottles, cardboard and plastic, but all organic waste, resulting in only a very small amount of “trash”. 

Three hundred and fifty people attended and in addition to enjoying DennyMike’s barbecue and dancing to the live music of Under The Covers, they participated in boot contests, photo booth and door prizes. A pair of mission based auctions, emceed by 99.9 The Wolf’s Michelle Taylor and led by auctioneer Elizabeth Holmstrom, were also held toward the support of scholarships for riders and care for the horses.

Founded in 1993, RTT is a community based nonprofit organization; it receives no taxpayer funding.
Bronson said its volunteers and certified instructors help over 250 clients with various disabilities “reach their highest potential through the healing power of horses. (The program) truly changes the lives of people with severe physical and cognitive disabilities, including ADHD, autism, cerebral palsy, hidden depression and anxiety, head injuries, PTSD or behavioral and abuse issues.”
A major goal is to promote psycho-social development. “Clients experience overall wellness through balance, thinking, sequencing and connections with staff and the horses,” added Bronson.

The fundraiser, corporate sponsors and grants combine to sustain programs at RTT
“Every lesson is subsidized, “said Bronson, “and 50 percent of our patrons receive scholarships.”
Clients range from 3 years old to 80 and over years of age.

Since its start, The Triple B has raised over $750,000 in support of RTT’s riders, horses and programs According to Sarah Bronson the Triple B is the center’s the event is the largest fundraising of the year and proceeds fund nearly a quarter of the center’s annual expense.
For information on client services, volunteering, making a referral or gift giving, visit www.ridingtothetop.org or call 892-2813.

Photo credit by Sandra Miner

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