Sometimes an experience moves you so much, you feel you just have to be a part of it. This happened to me last year when I first visited Great Oak, a rolling 20-acre farm minutes from downtown Aiken. Great Oak is a nonprofit therapeutic riding center, something Aiken has needed for a very long time. My visit reminded me of an experience from my past.
Bruce and I saw the power of therapeutic riding while serving for 15 years on the board of Friends of Handicapped Riders, a program at the Chicago Avenue Armory. One of my roles as a volunteer in that organization was introducing a 7 year old boy named Mike to the joy of interacting with a horse. Mike had never uttered a word in his short life, as the result of a difficult childhood. I worked with Mike and the horse, Misty, twice weekly for many months and had the personal satisfaction of hearing him say his first word, which was "Misty." It is hard to describe the joy and amazement of his mother who had shared this whole journey with Mike and me.
This epiphany showed me firsthand the rewards that can be reaped by therapeutic riding. Because of this, I completely support the efforts of Great Oak and the opportunity and the challenge that they will provide. I plan to be as involved with Great Oak as I possibly can, up to and including volunteering.
This is something that I want to see blossom in Aiken County, so I have decided to support this ambitious $1.5 million construction project by making a contribution of $150,000. Now I am writing friends far and wide, asking them to make their own donations that, collectively, will match this gift.
I know this is a heavy lift, but nothing worthwhile is easy. Great Oak needs additional funds to meet all expenses. I would be honored to have you join with me in this cause, knowing that our shared effort will greatly impact lives.
With affection and appreciation, I remain,