December 23, 2010
WindWalkers and 2011
Last January I wrote an entry about WindWalkers, the equine assisted learning and therapy program Alex and I are involved in. Not only does Alex benefit physically from riding, it gives her confidence. Alex is the boss while riding and not only do the horses listen to her, more importantly they respect her.
I am privileged to be the President of the Board, and in that capacity driving our new mission to serve more people with disabilities by providing a community center as well as a residential program built around our ranch. I will be donating part of the proceeds of my soon to be released book to support WindWalkers Ranch.
As I read through the past letter from me to our families and compare it to this recent letter, I am astounded. All I can say is BELIEVE, if we made it this far our future is very very bright.
Happy Holidays to our WindWalkers Family,
As we approach the end of 2010, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for the support you have provided us during this financially challenging year. Through your support as volunteers, friends, clients and donors we are happy to say we are moving into 2011 optimistic that we will continue to grow and improve the quality of life for so many.
Every year as we, The Board of WindWalkers, look back at our successes and challenges we always find ourselves with more checks in the triumph column, and this year is no exception. These triumphs are directly related to you, our WindWalkers family.
Perhaps most exciting, the WindWalkers Board is happy to announce we have approved a new mission, and vision for our future. We have expanded the mission of WindWalkers to meet the larger needs of our community by starting a working ranch and living community for young adults with disabilities.
Our vision is to purchase a local ranch and build or purchase small group homes, housing 3 - 5 people each. There will be an active therapeutic riding program that will offer job and volunteer opportunities, a community center for group activities for our local disabled population and rental to other non-profits. Transportation and job coaching for residents will be provided for those who would like to work in the community. Other activities will include Special Olympic teams, day programs for non-residents, summer camp programs, and other ranch opportunities such as vegetable and plant gardens and animal care.
We have recently taken our first step towards this goal, as we have relocated to a beautiful new home in Missouri Heights. Our new home includes an indoor arena and 14 acres of beautiful pastures with 360 degree views of our mountains. Mount Sopris and its majestic reminder of the beauty of our Valley is visible from everywhere on the Ranch.
Thanks to you, our family of donors and volunteers, we were able to build, at almost no cost to WindWalkers, a beautiful office in the barn; we're enjoying the luxury of working in an office where everyone has room to stretch their legs!
We are the only boarders on the ranch, and our ten horses, riders and staff find such peace in our new home that the feelings are those of enthusiasm, happiness and optimism for our future. The ranch is available to purchase, so we are putting together a plan to actively pursue funding to buy this ranch.
That said, our ridership has increased and their stories of growth inspire us every day. As a Board we recognize that without our dedicated and talented staff we would not be able to share this magic. A huge thanks to Molly, Beth, Mel and Tracey for letting us participate in this magical work.
2010 was a challenging year for most non-profits. Fortunately, at WindWalkers we did not find our individual contributors decrease, but we did notice it was tougher for people to donate at the same level as in previous years. However, it is donations in whatever amount that keep us going and we appreciate whatever support people are able to provide.
This year we would especially like to thank the KNU Foundation and the Bruce T Halle Foundation. These generous donors have once again stepped up to the plate and provided us with additional support as we navigated through the tight economy. I am happy to report we are going into 2011 with the strongest balance sheet we have had in three years.
Best wishes for an abundant holiday season, and an even more abundant 2011.
Gary Bender, President
WindWalkers Board of Directors
As we say at WindWalkers - We are Galloping into the Future - it is my wish for everyone that in 2011, we all gallop into a year of happiness,health and light!