By Shari EMAMI
A sunny day filled with horses, celebrities and children was found at the annual Ahead With Horses Fun Day fundraiser on Sunday, June 11.
“[It is] so exciting to see everyone here. I truly believe in this organization. They need love and support,” said former actress turned therapist Dr. Ava Cadell.
The Fun Day hosted guest appearances by celebrities such as Cadell and former Grizzly Adams and Charlie’s Angels star Dan Haggerty.
The focus of the day, however, was the children. Demonstrating the life changing exercises mastered by the Ahead With Horses participants, the program’s children performed extraordinary and complex vaulting exercises. Children like Xai Smith and Abigail Jang performed various standing techniques that left the crowd in awe.
“Very touching and inspiring,” said Abigail’s mother Annie of the demonstration. Added parent Mike Witt, “We get to see how children progress, [which is] very important.”
Other parents felt touched by the community’s love and support. “Excellent community support by everyone. I did not think my son was going to stand, but with the help of Ahead With Horses, he now can,” said Brandy Smith.
Started in 1969 by Liz Helms, Ahead With Horses maximizes the potential of disabled, disadvantaged and special needs children by providing developmental therapy, education and recreation through horses and related experiences, according to its website. The organization states that its methods show measurable improvement in the children in all aspects: physically, mentally, socially and/or emotionally. The program provides developmental therapy services to 200 children each week.
At Ahead With Horses, children suffering from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism seizure disorders and ADHD can learn how to ride a horse. At Fun Day, the public is made aware of the struggles these kids have faced and celebrate their personal achievements.
The demonstrations started around 1:00 p.m. and a Mariachi band performed at 2:30.
Other spokespeople and volunteers such as Annette Warren came out in support of Fun Day. “Both my daughters have volunteered here,” she said of her family’s involvement with the organization.
One of the highlights of the day was the presentation of Crystal Vision, a horse named after the Crystal Vision award given to Ahead of Horses for nearly $40,000. The grant will cover the cost of lessons in addition to other expenses. Founders Carrie Bollouck and Maria Passaco were a part of the Crystal Vision award and this year was their first time attending the Fun Day event.
“We came out to see the result of the support of the community,” said Bollouck.
The community support was evident.
“One thing that I love about this organization is that it makes people aware of every child out there,” said Haggerty. “Every child deserves a chance.”