Horse riders raising money for Special Olympics - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Horse riders raising money for Special Olympics

October 18, 2004

Lee County - The Southwest Georgia Therapeutic Riding Center has been teaching disabled people to ride horses for years. Now, many of those riders are training for the Special Olympics coming up in November, and they need your help to get there.

34 year-old Wendy Barlow travels from Cordele each week to ride horses at Honey Pot Stables in Lee County. "People say 'Cordele is a long way.' But, I would rather come from Cordele than stay home and do nothing. That's exactly what I would be doing - nothing," said Barlow.

Now, nothing is stopping Barlow's progress. She's paralyzed from the chest down, and the riding is improving her upper body strength and balance. "I've always had something behind when I'm sitting down. My goal is to not have anything behind me when I'm sitting on the bed or on this horse."

The Southwest Georgia Therapeutic Riding Center teachers dozens of mentally and physically disabled adults and children to ride each year. "You're using your legs, hips, and back," said Director Tara Okon. "As soon as you get your posture right, it helps your breathing. It's a lot of eye/hand coordination, and it helps your motor skills. So, it does a great deal for a lot of these riders."

Many of the riders, including Barlow, are training from the Special Olympics to be held in Perry in November. "It cost us nearly $900 to get our kids in the Special Olympics.," said Okon. "So, we really need to make sure we make some funding."

To raise money for the Special Olympics, the center is holding an auction Friday night. The money also helps pay for the center's $65,000 annual operating budget. "It pays for vet bills and general operating cost we need."

You can bid on items from Superbowl tickets to a new truck. All the money goes to keep riders where they want to be - in the saddle.

"Once you get a horse and start riding, you don't want to stop," said Barlow.

The Derby Day fundraiser is Friday night at 7:00PM at Honey Pot Stables on Philema Road. You can buy tickets in advance or at the door. Tickets are $25.

Posted at 10:18PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com