While I have not been around with AWH since its inception in 1968 (I wasn’t born yet), I have known about the program since I was only 5 years old. I used to come and watch my sister Stacy, who has Trisomy 9M and is severely disabled, take lessons, starting right before she turned 3. I still remember and can appreciate what she learned while at AWH. She started to make more noise and communicate with others, as well as learn how to safely get off a bed by sliding off the horse’s tail. I loved coming to watch her and getting to see the horses. I even got to take some hoof clippings for a report I did in elementary school on horses and ponies. I also remember coming and participating in Costume Day, which I was always enthusiastic about.
I started volunteering for AHEAD With Horses the summer before my junior year in High School. After volunteering, I started working part-time until I left for college. I would always come back and work over the summers while I attended the University of Redlands. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa, I started working full-time for AWH in 2005, both teaching lessons and working in the office. I worked with Liz Helms, the Founder, and she taught me how she ran this wonderful non-profit. I have gone through many different titles and job descriptions while here, but my current, all encompassing title is Executive Director and Head Instructor.
Each day I go to “work” I get to spend time outside with the children and the horses. I get to see little miracles happen every day as one child is able to hold their head up a little longer on their own; I hear a quiet and shy child break out of their shell and tell me how much they love the horses; I see a little boy finally be able to complete a “quad” on his hands and knees while the horse walks for a whole circle; I see a little girl who was afraid to let go of the handles now stand up on her horse… and so many other amazing moments.
I hope that many others come and see the wonderful work that AWH does, and find some way that they can personally help this program thrive! Every hour spent volunteering and ever dollar donated can make a huge impact not only in the lives of the AWH children and their families, but in the lives of those who give.
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