The holiday season can be a difficult time for those struggling to come back from a serious illness or injury. While most people spend December decorating and buying gifts, catastrophically injured or sick people spend the holidays agonizing over being out of work and facing medical bills and mortgage payments.
Luckily, there is an organization that helps sick and injured equestrians. The Equestrian Aid Foundation formed in 1996 to provide financial assistance to those in the horse industry. Last year, the Wellington-based nonprofit started a holiday program to grant wishes to recipients for things that fall outside of their normal scope of assistance. The Wish List program was a huge success last year. EAF hopes to once again make the holiday season a little brighter for its recipients.
“This is the second year we’ve done the Wish List,” said Janise Gray, EAF director of grant recipient services. “We conduct an annual review of each of our recipients. I’m involved with all of them and I know there are things they need and want that go beyond what our guidelines stipulate. I started the wish list to help with those things.”
EAF has assisted Wellington farrier Joe McCloskey since he was injured on the job in 2007. McCloskey suffers from chronic, debilitating pain. He can sleep only in a reclining chair. His old recliner was falling apart. Last Christmas, EAF board member Missy Luczak-Smith surprised him with a new chair.
“He had no idea he was getting it,” Gray said “He was overwhelmed with joy and relief.”
This year, EAF recipients have wished for a variety of things.
“We have some quadriplegics and paraplegics,” Gray said. “One person asked if the hand controls could be transferred from one vehicle to another. We’ve been asked for a used wheelchair-accessible van and a therapeutic bicycle, horse supplies and tack, veterinary care for pets, gift cards to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods and Home Depot, furniture, printers and electronics. Some have asked for medical supplies, or tuition assistance for their kids. One recipient in Idaho is struggling with their horse business so they’re trying to make a go with dairy goats. So they’ve asked for help with building materials.”
Anyone wishing to help can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 792-6068. Gray is EAF’s version of Santa Claus. She has personal relationships with each of the recipients and knows them better than anyone in the organization. She will gladly tell a potential donor about the recipients and mail any gifts out herself.
“Our motto is Ride for Hope,” Gray said. “The financial assistance is wonderful and needed, but we give them hope. It gives people so much hope to see the kindness of strangers and people willing to help them survive and keep a roof over their head and their phone turned on or gas in the car. I’ve been with EAF since its inception and I’m still amazed and delighted with the kindness and generosity of people, especially this time of year. It’s heartwarming.”
Amy Bower Doucette writes about the equestrian communities for Neighborhood Post. Send mail to 2751 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Call 561-820-4763, fax 561-837-8320. email@example.com