CHARLOTTE, NC – On Saturday morning, 12 local athletes competed in a regional Special Olympics Equestrian Show hosted by Shining Hope Farms at their farm located off of Beatties Ford Road. The show, which is put on annually by Shining Hope Farms, is held in partnership with Special Olympics of North Carolina. This year, the 12 riders were from Mecklenburg, Gaston, Lincoln, and Union counties. They competed in various levels and classes catered towards their interest and abilities which included dressage, showmanship, and working trail classes.
Riders and their families look forward to the show all year, and thankfully, Saturday brought beautiful weather. Throughout the morning, participants showed off their talents with family and friends, bonded with their teammates and coaches, cheered one another on, and had a good time.
“When these children/young adults showcase their riding abilities at the SHF Special Olympics it is just another way of giving them even more self-confidence,” said Sarah Allen, a mom of one of the athletes, “There is a little bit of competitiveness involved and a whole lot of fun and smiles. They become a part of something that others around them, who are typical, receive more frequently.”
Carol A. Mejia, owner of White Rose Equestrian Center in Iron Station, and volunteer judge for the second year in a row commented, “It is very obvious how dedicated the staff and volunteers are toward the riders and the pride they have for them and their accomplishments is evident. The riders overcome their limitations and work hard to remember their tests and always compete with a smile. It’s humbling and very rewarding.”
The event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many generous volunteers and sponsors. Local sponsors included Wells Fargo, The Worrell Network Office, Northwestern Mutual, Cannon Cassidy, Horne Heating and Air Conditioning, AcuCare Clinic, Star Bright Pharmacy, Coppa Coffee, BluHawk Wealth Management, Chris & Sarah Allen, Stanton McDonalds of Callabridge Ct. and Northlake, Mountain Island Lake Harris Teeter, and Edible Arrangements of Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd.
About Shining Hope Farms
Shining Hope Farms is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to enable children and adults with disabilities to achieve functional goals through the use of equine assisted activities and Hippotherapy. Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention to achieve functional outcomes. They are a Premier Accredited Center of PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International) as well as the American Hippotherapy Association, and currently operate sites in Gaston and Mecklenburg Counties with 22 horses and ponies, 28 staff members consisting of occupational and physical therapists, speech language pathologists, and PATH Intl. certified riding instructors, as well as many wonderful volunteers, which help to make a well-rounded program. Shining Hope Farms is also a GuideStar Exchange Gold participant, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability among nonprofits. For more information, visit shininghopefarms.org.