On Saturday July 8, 23 local athletes competed in our Invitational Equestrian Show at our Charlotte Farm. The show, which is put on annually by Shining Hope Farms gives the opportunity for friendly competition and also prepares interested riders to compete at the state Special Olympics of North Carolina show if they are interested. This year, the 23 riders were individuals from Gaston, Mecklenburg, Union, Lincoln, and Catawba 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, and the athletes, coaches, and volunteers were great sports through the July heat! 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.

“Richard looks forward to the show every year,” said Ame, the sister of one of the athletes, “The horse show and training leading up to it gives him a real sense of purpose and pride!”

George and Jennifer, parents of Ashley, another athlete who competed at the event, commented, “Participating in the Special Olympics through Shining Hope Farms was a transformative experience for Ashley. She developed focus, confidence and a sense of purpose we have not seen before. Her trainer Liz was incredibly understanding and patient, constantly encouraging, and an outstanding instructor. It was unbelievable watching Ashley develop and have so much fun while doing it. This was one of the best programs ever for Ashley.”

Ashley herself gave her own take on her experience commenting, “It was kind of hard but I did well. I was really proud of myself. Reese and I had fun and I really like our blue ribbons.”

We are so proud of all of the athletes!

The event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many generous volunteers and sponsors. Local sponsors included Northwestern Mutual – The Worrell Network Office, Mountain Island Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, Carolinas Rehabilitation, a part of Carolinas HealthCare System, Star Bright Pharmacy, Horne Heating and Air Conditioning, AcuCare Clinic, Omni Wellness Center, Helen Adams Realty (Angie Godley Bright and Judy Godley), BluHawk Wealth Management, Coulwood Tire & Auto, Century 21, Stanton McDonalds of Callabridge Ct. and Northlake, Edible Arrangements of Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd, Harris Teeter of Mountain Island Lake, Food Lion, Cooks Presbyterian Men of the Church, and Special Olympics North Carolina. Thank you also to Jay Wilson for filming and producing the fabulous video of the day.

You can view a full gallery of photos from the day here.