Special athletes need support to keep riding - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special athletes need support to keep riding

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April 30

 Lee County- Equestrian Monty Latham is practicing for a big event.

"Horse show," said Monty.

Saturday, he'll be one of 64 riders taking part in a special equestrian meet at Lee County's Hunny Pot Stables.

"They are all special needs children and adults from age three to 68," said Gretchen Gay, volunteer coordinator at the stables.

Every week, Monty comes here to the Southwest Georgia Therapeutic Riding Center for a therapy session with his favorite horse.

But federal and state budget cuts could leave the Albany Advocacy Resource Center without enough money to pay for this therapy.

"The end of July, the first of August is when we'll find out," said Tara Okon, the center's director. "We're hoping the money will be somewhere."

The riding center serves more than 260 special needs children and adults from school systems and service agencies throughout southwest Georgia. The therapy helps them physically and emotionally.

"A lot of these people, it helps there self-esteem so much," Okon said.

"The therapy that they get out here, they don't realize they're getting," Gay said. "They come out here and they smile from ear to ear."

And center volunteers say an increase in donations will help keep those smiles on faces such as Monty's.

The Riding Center is run totally by volunteers.  No one gets a salary.  You can sponsor a rider or a horse. If you'd like to make a donation or become a volunteer, call the Southwest Georgia Riding Center at 434-9087.

posted at 11:45 p.m. by ben.roberts@walb.com