Karen Province, Membership Coordinator for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH), recently asked me to help in the selection process to choose a winner for the PATH Volunteer of the Year Award.
Though PATH International began with a focus on horseback riding as a form of physical and mental therapy, the organization and its dedicated members have since developed a multitude of different equine-related activities for therapeutic purposes, collectively known as equine-assisted activities and therapies (or EAAT). Equine Services for Heroes, which uses a variety of EAAT disciplines, is specifically to help war veterans and military personnel.
The individuals served by PATH International members may face any number of challenges, including paralysis, multiple sclerosis, autism, Down Syndrome, drug addiction, traumatic brain injury, amputation or PTSD. And the amazing thing is that all of these issues can be eased by the power of the horse.
When reading through the list of nominees and what they had contributed to their PATH Riding Centers, my eyes opened up to a world of people who believe strongly enough in helping others that they donate their time and knowledge for the sole purpose of seeing a smile on someone’s face, or knowing someone’s life has been enriched. Some of these PATH volunteers perform a range of farmhand duties, such as fixing fences, stacking hay, turning manure and driving a tractor to keep the therapy centers running. Many lend their time and business expertise behind the scenes in the offices, sitting on boards or tirelessly fundraising. Others teach lessons or assist with riding lessons. Many regularly put in full work weeks of volunteering – some have held these volunteering positions for decades. They do all of these things for the joy of it, while asking for absolutely nothing in return.
Some PATH program participants have lifelong physical and emotional injuries from living through wars they fought for their country. Other participants have developmental disabilities that make living in our loud, fast-paced, modern world very challenging. The volunteers have looked deeply enough to recognize what these people are going through and they have truly extended themselves in the purest, most compassionate way. I feel honored to have been part of this process of recognition and I extend my own personal thanks to these rare and lovely people.
Cavallo Horse & Rider
The PATH mission is one that Greg and I both feel deeply connected to and we are proud sponsors, working hard to make Cavallo Horse Hoof Boots available to all PATH members so they may keep their equine therapists healthy and comfortable while they do their great job!
Keep an eye out for the announcement of the PATH Volunteer of the Year Award winner – results will be posted on PATH International Website: http://www.pathintl.org/path-intl-conferences/international/awards/2015-award-winners