The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but maybe none more so than those with special needs, whose therapy or tutoring often had to be canceled or postponed.
Luckily, there is a new nonprofit in the region helping to bridge that gap.
Disabling Barriers provided $433,750 this year alone to 16 nonprofits in the Pikes Peak region whose projects or programs benefit those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
The biggest percentage of this year's grants went to Reigning Hope, an occupations and physical therapy clinic that uses horses to improve the lives of those with special needs.
Every week at Reigning Hope's 40-acre farm, 15 horses are shared by 60 to 80 kids and adults.
Edwina Woelfel says the program has been a tremendous benefit to her daughter, Hannah.
“Some of the other therapies that she does, she does not love. This one, I mean just look at her, she's happy. She loves the horses, loves doing it,” she says.
It's those social and emotional benefits, beyond the exercise and motor skills maintenance, that makes this therapy different from what is offered in a typical office setting.
"It feels more comfortable here," says Tim Harvey, who considers Reigning Hope more like a family than a clinic.
Harvey is the Vice President of the nonprofit, but also the parent of a patient.
"Seeing my daughter ride just gives me goosebumps, and just some pride seeing how well she does with the horses,” he says.
Tim was among those on hand on Saturday for the presentation of a $131,200 grant from Disabling Barriers.
The money will pay for a new ramp and a special lift to get riders on and off the horses easier.
“There are so many unmet needs in the disabled community,” explains Chris Robinson, President of Disabling Barriers, “and if Disabling Barriers can make somebody's life one percent better, then that's what we're going to do.”
The money will also allow Reigning Hope to add another 20 riders.
That’s 20 more patients whose progress will not just be tracked by comparing the speed of their steps before and after a session, but by their smiles and self esteem.
"It's fantastic therapy, but it doesn't feel like therapy. It feels like fun to her. It warms my heart. It's just amazing," adds Woelfel.
The next grant cycle for Disabling Barriers begins on August 1, 2022.