Early on, PALS Executive Director Fern Goodman (Bonchek) had been exposed to the need within the Indiana community for recreational programs for individuals with disabilities. Growing up, Fern’s Mother, Barb, had spent several days a week providing riding lessons for individuals with disabilities within the community. Upon returning to her hometown of Bloomington, IN in 2000 several of Barb’s original riders had inquired about returning to riding, an opportunity Barb could no longer provide, and inspired Fern to explore the possibility of starting her own therapeutic riding program for individuals in the Indiana community. Having spent several years training and becoming a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Advanced Instructor while working with The Shea Center, one of the oldest therapeutic riding programs in the United States located in Orange County California, Fern felt confident in her abilities to bring the same high quality program and services to the local community, a unique opportunity not available in Bloomington or the surrounding vicinity for a growing population of individuals with disabilities and at-risk youth.
Since the program’s inception, PALS has grown to serve over 60 weekly clients with the assistance of over 150 volunteers. The organization has provided over 10,942 therapeutic program and service hours designed to improve the lives of hundreds of children, adults, and seniors in the Indiana community ranging in age from 3 to over 64 from 11 counties across the state. The staff members and horses who currently serve the PALS program look forward to the continued growth and development of the program in years to come as new opportunities arise and new clients and volunteers join the PALS family.