EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center touches the lives of many each year, including children of bereavement and those with special needs.
“We have kids who have autism who open up a lot when they get on a horse. It’s very freeing. And there’s something that’s indescribable between the animal and the individual,” Dr. Chris Kerr, chairman of the Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center board said.
The riding center in East Aurora also helps war veterans. Vietnam veteran and volunteer Joe Ruszala said, “This is a place for healing.”
He explained that many of the vets he works with have a hard time transitioning and adjusting to coming home. They feel like they don’t fit in, he says. Until they visit the riding center.
“We’ve seen the guys brighten up and guys who’ve never smiled before begin to smile.”
However activities at the riding center have come to a halt. Its indoor arena was damaged by winter’s heavy snow.
“The melting and the weight of the wet snow itself, as it shifted has put so much downward pressure, the vertical columns that hold up the roof have drove into the ground,” Kerr said.
It costs approximately $250,000 to demolish the arena and build a new one. Insurance and generous donations have helped, but they’re still close to $90,000 shy of their goal.
Volunteers and staff at the riding center hope to raise enough money by early summer, so they can get back on their feet to help those who need it.
“It’s absolutely crucial that we keep it going. It will help not only the people who need it, but our veteran community,” Ruszala said.
If you want to help the Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, they’ve set up a go fund me account at http://www.gofundme.com/lothlorientrc.