Riding camp faces a bleak future - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Riding camp faces a bleak future

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June 11, 2008

Worth Co. - Kids and adults with disabilities are enjoying the first summer camp held by the Southwest Georgia Therapeutic riding center.

But as the center expands its services its future is in doubt. Fewer people are donating, and prices for fuel and feed are way up. The center is low on money.

At a very special place, just outside of Sylvester, camp Creaky Bridge is underway.

"Miracles happen here, I see it Karen, I do," says Volunteer Gretchen Gay.

Miraculous developments in the people who attend. "The people that ride with us, especially from ARC are those who are the most physically and mentally challenged," gay said.

Gretchen Gay has been volunteering with the Southwest Georgia Therapeduic riding center for six years now. This is the first year they've held a summer camp. The kids not only get to ride horses.

"I just love riding horses and horses is my favorite animals," said Camper Debra Gibson.

They also get to take boat rides and even have a jam session in music class.

"It's a mental booster. They see, well, we can be just like everybody else when we get on that horse, or we can get into that boat and do just like the other kids boating," Gay said.

Unfortunately, if more donations don't come into the program before December, Camp Creaky Bridge may not happen next summer.

"The horses have gotten very expensive this year because the hay has doubled, feed has gone up to $6 a bag in the last five to six months. It's been astronomical increases," says Tara Okon of the Southwest Georgia Therapeutic Riding Center.

"This is their life. This is what they love to do. This is what they enjoy."

Something Gretchen hopes will continue. "So, if this program wasn't to get funding, what would happen? Well, it would break my heart for one thing."

And this place where miracles occur would be no more.

A grant writer is now working to help the center bring in money to continue to operate.

They have enough money to continue operating through the end of the year, but they need an influx of cash to stay open next year.

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