Meet PALS Client, CJ! For the past one and a half years, he has come to PALS, participating in both riding and unmounted horsemanship programs. CJ is diagnosed with disabilities that affect his cognitive functioning. However, this does not stop him from achieving his riding goals and learning all about equine care. During CJ’s ride, he exhibits much less self-stimulatory behavior and fewer verbal outbursts. His riding sessions are often quiet; the horse does most of the magic. He becomes very calm from the motion of the horse. CJ does know how to steer, “woah,” and “walk on,” but asking him to perform some of these riding skills can increase his verbal stims. His instructor, Lizzie, prefers to let the horse do most of the work and walk in patterns at different rates of speed. His mother has noticed that after he comes to PALS, he is calmer for days.
CJ also volunteers two times per week. He is learning how to care for our animals, feeding them and providing them with fresh water. He also grooms PALS horses and tacks them up for riding. CJ grooms horses and walks them around the arena to give them some exercise. The PALS team is ecstatic to have CJ as part of the volunteer family. We look forward to continuing talks with his school counselor, possibly expanding his hours during school!
Why did you apply for the leadership position at PALS?
The PALS leadership position gave me the opportunity to use my business skills and experience in meaningful workthat truly increases the quality of life of other people. I love a challenge and I love growing organizations and helping employees discover their potential. PALS is a place where I can do all of those things with an engaged and excited team.
What is your vision for PALS and its future impact on the South Central Indiana community?
This organization has long been known for its work using therapeutic riding to help those with a variety of physical, cognitive, emotional and social disabilities. Therapeutic Riding remains our primary focus, however, we are looking to expand programs to meet the changing needs of our community. I am looking to a time when our arena is full from morning to evening, 6 days per week, reaching young people, senior citizens, veterans, and many others as they experience growth and healing through the power of the horse.
What makes you smile while you’re at work?
Too many things to list, honestly. I smile when my co-workers teach my personal horse to paint a picture for me. I smile when a volunteer pops their head in my office to tell me a story about one of our clients or horses.
I even smile when my co-workers discover a barn mouse in my trash can! But I also cry more than I thought I would — I cry tears of awe and joy when I see a young boy with autism with his head on the shoulder of a horse, and I can almost hear their hearts whispering to each other. I cry when I see a young girl with cerebral palsy elated because she was able to lead a horse down the aisle when just days before she could barely stand. It’s the expectation of tears of joy that get me up every morning. I can’t wait to get to the barn to see what magic is in store for the day.
On a more personal note, what is your favorite book and why?
That’s a tough question because I’m a big reader. I don’t read much fiction. I read a lot of business-related books. I’m generally reading or listening to 2-3 books every month. My favorite business book so far is, The One Thing, by Gary Keller. That book speaks very simply about how to get extraordinary results in life and business. I also enjoy the wisdom of the Bible – specifically the book of Proverbs – because it makes me think about how I can better relate to others. The insights in Proverbs are pretty timeless and have helped me many, many times.
Dear Friends of PALS,
Let me introduce you to my daughter, Kaylee. She is a caring and intelligent 22-year-old, who is typical in so many ways. She enjoys, fashion, shopping, boy bands, crafting and has an honest love for animals. What is not so typical about my daughter is that she has cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination. Kaylee gets frustrated from time-to-time because she doesn’t see that she has a problem. She gets discouraged when her hands don’t work the way she wants them to, and walking has been a big challenge in her life. Speech has also been a hurdle, which has affected her socially. As her mother, I want the best for Kaylee, and the program at PALS is improving her quality of life in so many ways.
Among the horses, staff, and volunteers, Kaylee finds happiness. The moment Kaylee came home from her first horsemanship session, we knew PALS was the perfect fit. She was glowing as she enthusiastically told me everything that happened, what she learned, and who she worked with. As shared by her instructor, Lizzie, Kaylee has developed the confidence to groom her horse from her chair, and stand out of her chair to reach their backs. She now leads her horses independently, and also has the strength to tack and untack horses on her own. Not only does the program bring Kaylee happiness, but it has improved a number of her skills. Her strength & balance have improved, her speech has developed greatly, and everyone has noticed her increased confidence in walking.
Kaylee used to have panic attacks about her ability to walk because she was afraid of falling. Since participating at PALS, the attacks have stopped. She’s not so fearful. At home, Kaylee’s caretaker, Anna, has also noticed remarkable changes in her daily life. Kaylee’s more confident when she gets out of her chair and more independent because her muscles are stronger. For example, now she can get out of her chair and reach into the microwave. Steps like this make a big difference, especially while Kaylee makes her own animal treats from scratch which she branded Paw Lickin’ Treats! She researches recipes, prepares all the ingredients, bags them up, decorates them with ribbons, and brings them to the PALS therapy horses
Though daily life presents what many of us would see as insurmountable challenges, Kaylee is a happy person who meets those challenges. Her disability doesn’t define her or keep her from becoming known as “The Horse Whisperer” at the PALS barn. This year was momentous for our family. At the Fun Show, Kaylee was named the “Client of the Year.” In this moment, I, of course, cried, because I was overwhelmed by how excited and proud she was. I witnessed my daughter living out her dream. We were all very emotional. Our experiences with this organization have been amazing all around.
For Kaylee and our family, the horsemanship program has brought great joy. It is so satisfying as a parent to see that my daughter is reaching her goals and living her dream. I ask that you please consider giving to PALS this holiday season, so that people like my daughter, Kaylee, can continue to afford their programs. Thank you for reading our story and for your support of this wonderful place.
Daniele & The Clark Family
This year, at the 2016 PALS Fun Show, myself along with four other girls in my Event Planning class had the privilege of working behind the scenes with the PALS staff in preparation of this exciting event. We worked closely with Cynthia, the Outreach Coordinator of the organization. Siena, Emily, Meghan, Carly, and I were able to assist in planning the event by doing things like coming up with ideas for the Fun Zone, planning decorations, public relations and marketing, themes and layout. We were all super excited about helping out with the Fun Show and could not wait for the day of the event to arrive. When the day finally came and we started setting up, we couldn’t stop talking about how excited we were for people to start showing up and for the event to be under way.
Although the five of us were busy with our assigned duties during the show, we all made it a point to make it into the arena to simply take in the beauty of the event and witness the fun that the clients were having. “My favorite part of the Fun Show was seeing the clients ride their horses,” said Siena Patty who was busy at the check-in station throughout the day. “Seeing their smiling faces as they rode and received their trophies was incredible. Their hard word and dedication clearly paid off and I’m so glad that I got a chance to help out this amazing organization.” All of us left the event with a new found love for an organization that many of us had barely even heard of before. Just being able to attend the event that everyone involved with PALS looks forward to every single year made it such an amazing experience for us and we look forward to hopefully helping out with PALS again in the future.
IU Event Planning Student
Bruce has been a dedicated volunteer since April of 2013. He has done amazing work as a side walker and horse leader. Bruce always brings laughter to his volunteer shifts, playfully joking with his fellow volunteers, staff and clients. He has a great attitude and time-after-time ready to help at the drop of a hat, with coffee in hand, of course. We appreciate Bruce so much and know we can always count on him. We can’t thank Bruce enough for his time, effort, and dedication to programs!
Angie has been a part of the PALS program since June of 2015. After just one year of having Angie around, we don’t know how we’d get along without her! Angie has been one of the most hardworking and dedicated volunteers this organization has ever seen. Angie has volunteered in multiple capacities: horse leading, sidewalking, summer camp, special events, and keeping the facility looking clean! Angie is such a gentle and caring person. She brightens up our days and the days of everyone she volunteers with at PALS. Angie’s the definition of an all-star volunteer that can be counted on for anything and everything. We’re so grateful to have her as part of the PALS family.