Gillispie shared the essence of Hearts Therapeutic and how they focus on the possible. She explained how the bond between a horse and rider has the potential to be transformative, allowing the rider to seemingly conquer the impossible.
At Hearts Therapeutic, the power of this relationship is harnessed to heal and enhance the capabilities of children and adults with special needs. Serving 80 riders a week, ranging from 3 to 95 years in age, this Santa Barbara-based program tailors lessons to the specific needs of each individual, a holistic approach strengthening physical, cognitive, social and behavioral abilities.
With more than 150 volunteers, Hearts Therapeutic serves riders with disabilities, including autism, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, Down syndrome and fibromyalgia. It also offers a specialty program for U.S. veterans who have sustained injuries or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service.
“This is a healing center,” Gillispie said. “We are not just teaching people to ride, but increasing capabilities in all areas of their lives.”
The Santa Barbara Foundation has supported Hearts Therapeutic with grants from discretionary funding, and foundation donors have also given through their donor advised funds.
It has been rewarding to see the milestones the Hearts riders are able to reach as they overcome incredible challenges. It is especially rewarding to see the big smiles of participants at the end of a trail ride and knowing I have contributed in some way to their happiness and development.
Rotary Club President-elect Mike Pitts presented Gillispie with the Rotary Four Way Test Pen and thanked her for her informative and heartfelt presentations.
The Rotary Club of Goleta invites men and women to its bimonthly dinner meetings at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the Elephant Bar Restaurant, offering good fellowship with men and women from all backgrounds, with a common interest to help our community in a variety of ways.
— Lynn Cederquist is publicity chairwoman of the Rotary Club of Goleta.