The Edmond Sun

September 27, 2013

Savannah Station plans fundraiser

Equine therapy organization seeks support

Kristine Meggenberg
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program is a nonprofit organization assisting children with special needs through equine therapy. This program is completely free to the families of the riders and they are seeking public support by attending the First Annual Savannah Station Round Up.

The First Annual Savannah Station Round Up will be Oct. 4 at the Farmer’s Public Market at 311 S. Kline Ave. in Oklahoma City. This is an auction and dinner to raise funds for this program.

The barbecue dinner will be supplied by Swadley’s, along with live music by the Josie-Lynn Band. The emcee for the night is Abigail Ogle from Channel 5 News, and Carl Eskew will be the auctioneer for the night. Reservations are $30 a person. All funds that are raised will be funneled back into the organization through total horse care, tack and equine supplies, office supplies and to help families travel to its four satellite centers.

Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program was founded in June and this program wouldn’t be possible without its 58 employees and volunteers. The driving force of the therapeutic riding program is its volunteers. There are three volunteers for every rider, which include two side walkers who are responsible for the safety of the child, and a horse handler is responsible for the safety of the horse.

The special needs children that attend Savannah Station, at one of their four satellite centers in Mustang, El Reno, Piedmont and Warr Acres, have been diagnosed with Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy or autism. Two children from Edmond are currently benefiting from this program and attend a location along Coffee Creek while the facilities in Piedmont are being finalized.

“Equine therapy truly impacts the quality of the rider’s life in so many ways that we must provide this opportunity. This program, in a non-intrusive way, gives hope to a child, an adult and all who are involved. That is why the program is important to me,” said Dr. Velinda Baker, program director.

Not every horse qualifies to be a therapy horse. They have to be intelligent, skilled, trusting, calm, adaptable and patient before they ever carry a rider with special needs. The riders or children form a unique bond with their horses. All the horses belong to individual owners but are being loaned for therapy sessions.

To buy tickets and make reservations for the Round Up, call Baker at 405-651-2324 or email her at savannahstationtrp@gmail.com. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 29.