Centaur Stride Seeks Community Support At Walk-A-Thon

On Sunday, March 16, at the Chautauqua Mall, from 2-3 p.m., area residents will have the opportunity to support the therapeutic horseback riding program for people with special needs.

“Centaur Stride operates on a very frugal budget,” said Claudia Monroe, board president and co-founder. “We have no paid administrators, and provide services for $20/lesson, which is far below operating costs. Having no paid administrators is a deterrent for most grant funding, especially for operating expenses, and having 16 therapy horses that need daily care is a hefty overhead expense. We are hoping to raise the money for that horse care through this walk-a-thon. Many of our riders participate in the walk-a-thon, and it is such a motivator for me to see how much they want to help keep our programs going. Without that motivator, I don’t think I could keep going. Centaur Stride really does need help from the community. Many people think we get state or federal grants, but we don’t. The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has been our best supporting foundation, but over the past 20 years, less than 5 percent of our budget totals have been from grant funding. Most of it is from fundraising and donations, and rider fees. We are looking for more people in the community to help.”

Each group or individual who registers early will be set up with a fundraising page through “Network for Good.” This is a secure national website for nonprofit Internet fundraising. To register, contact Claudia Monroe at claudiamonroe@centaurstride.org or call the barn at 326-4318 for more information. For those just wanting to participate in the walk at the mall, there will be a $10 registration fee that can be paid at the day of the walk. Registration will be in front of the Old Navy Store, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Donations can also be sent to Centaur Stride, Inc., PO Box 174, Westfield, NY 14787. To sponsor a rider online, you can go to their website as soon as it is established, and there will be a link from our website.

Centaur Stride enriches the lives of more than 150 people with special needs per year. The horse is a very therapeutic tool and benefits expand across physical, social, emotional and cognitive domains. The joy experienced by family members just to see their child engaging in something that has been made low risk and possible for them to do is monumental.

Centaur Stride horses are gentle and well trained for their purpose. Running the programs is labor intensive and often requires many people to assist. Additional programs are available for non-disabled siblings, friends and family members to facilitate integration and family unity, and to teach others about the need for integration. Other programs are in developmental stages to further utilize existing resources and potential to reach a larger population, pending funding and transportation. Besides funding, transportation is a major obstacle in this rural area, and Centaur Stride continues to seek solutions.

Centaur Stride is a nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

Centaur Stride has been providing these services for the past 20 years. Visit www.centaurstride.org for more information.