By Lawrence Becerra, Chairman, Las Campanas Compadres
Las Campanas Compadres offers therapeutic riding and swimming lessons to people with special needs at the world class facilities of The Club at Las Campanas. Lessons are free and 100 percent supported by private donations.
The program is made possible through the generous support of volunteers who work with our accredited instructors: Karen Evans, our riding instructor and Dave Caldwell, our swimming instructor. Each lesson is a 1/2 hour private tutorial lesson. Volunteers can be asked to be a side walker, lead walk a horse, help students get prepared for their riding and swimming lesson, and just be helpful in general. No experience is necessary – just a big heart.
The positive therapeutic effects of hippo therapy for people with special needs are substantial. LCC’s transferring/lifting equipment makes the riding experience safer. While LCC’s volunteer side-walkers help the rider with positioning and balance throughout the lesson, the riding program’s special adaptive saddle is supportive enough to allow riders to sit on the horse without a back rider. The LCC swim program offers students a creative way to simultaneously strengthen and relax their bodies.
Susan Sumner has been a volunteer since the inception of the program in 2007. She also serves as an LCC board member. Susan’s disposition is engaging and allows her to connect with the students and parents to make the most of their experience.
“I originally volunteered as I grew up riding horses and believed this would get me back to the barn. It couldn’t have been further from the truth…although I certainly got back to the barn and to the pool, my experiences with the students and their families was truly life altering. I began the first lesson feeling as if I was giving back, but what I received from the joy we share with the students when they connect to the horses gave me so much more. My entire perspective changed. I realized that these special needs students certainly have challenges in their day to day lives, but their abilities, determination and perspective provide lessons for all of us as we approach our own challenges. John Romero and his parents, without question, are my heroes. Not a week goes by that I am not thankful for all they and this program have given me.
The great part of this program is that the commitment on the part of the volunteers is really flexible. You can commit 30 minutes once a month, or one hour each week…it is really based on your availability. Whether we are part of riding or swimming lessons, we can take a few minutes each week to interact with these students. It is not only rewarding…it is fun.”
For the past five years Las Campanas Compadres has held a triathlon fund raising event on the grounds of The Club at Las Campanas. This year’s event will feature a sprint tri for adults and a mini tri for juniors. This is the charity’s only fund raising event and its success ensures the continuation of this worthwhile program. This year’s event will be held on Labor Day, September 1. Expectations are for 200 participants.
To learn more about the event, or the program and how you can help, please visit www.lascampanascompadres.org, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing therapeutic riding and swimming instruction to people with special needs. Las Campanas Compadres is being profiled as part of the All Things Real Estate “Unique Destinations” series.