Wellington, FL. – The Equestrian Aid Foundation is proud to announce its twentieth year as the leading nonprofit that assists individuals from all riding disciplines, equine professions, backgrounds and ages who are coping with catastrophic injury or illness.
“The Equestrian Aid Foundation has made a difference in the lives of so many,” states Stephanie Bulger, Equestrian Aid Foundation Board President. “This milestone celebrates all of those who share our mission. Special appreciation goes to our donors, who have embraced the responsibility that we have as horse lovers and horse-sport participants to take care of our own. We join our grant recipients in sending heartfelt thanks to all of those who have supported Equestrian Aid throughout these 20 years.
Equestrian Aid was founded in 1996 by six-time Olympic dressage rider, Robert Dover, together with R. Scot Evans, Gene Mische, Mason Phelps, Jr., Robert Ross and Kim Tudor. Initially, the organization focused on providing financial support to those battling HIV/AIDS. Some ten years ago, the Foundation broadened its mission to provide needs-based assistance for basic living and rehabilitation expenses to any equestrian who is suffering from a severe or life-threatening illness or injury.
Since its inception, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has provided over $2.5 million in direct grant support to recipients in 30 states across America. As the Foundation’s reputation expands nationally, opportunities are also growing for Equestrian Aid to provide essentials such as food and housing, health insurance, transportation, physical therapy, and more to a greater number of equestrians in need.
To meet this challenge, Equestrian Aid has hired its first Executive Director, Louise Smith. “As a dressage rider and farm owner, I understand how quickly life can change for people involved with horses. When equestrians become seriously hurt or ill, they sometimes risk losing everything,” says Smith. “As more people understand our purpose, I believe that they will want to get involved and help.”
Steven Castillo was a leading dressage trainer and promising L United States Dressage Federation judge in 1997. When he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Steven turned to Equestrian Aid to help pay for medical and housing expenses since his prognosis. “After discovering the Equestrian Aid Foundation, my life truly changed,” states Steven. “The fear of not being about to put food on the table or pay medical expenses was wiped away. Equestrian Aid has been my biggest blessing.”
A more recent Equestrian Aid grantee is Linda Andrisani, one of the most well-respected hunter judges in the country. In March 2011, Linda was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the right parotid gland. As a result, she was unable to work for a period of time, but has since recovered. “After my diagnosis, I didn’t know if my life would ever go back to normal,” Linda reflects. “The Equestrian Aid Foundation helped to provide a sense of security that created hope in spite of life’s circumstances.”
To kick off its anniversary celebration, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has created a volunteer program that allows individuals within the community to become the voice for the foundation to raise awareness that will help grow and support a greater number of horse people in need. The Equestrian Aid Foundation Ambassador program provides a hands-on opportunity for compassionate horse lovers to get involved and help equestrians from all corners of the horse world to overcome adversity and get back on their feet.
For more information about the Equestrian Aid Foundation, please visit equestrianaidfoundation.org