On January 13, 2015, Jennifer Pidatella and Karen Abbot spoke to the Magnolia Rotary Club about what the Joy Ride Center does for special needs kids. Pictured from left to right are Jennifer Pidatella and Karen Abbot.
Jennifer Pidtatella told the group that the mission of the Joy Ride Center is to help people with different abilities find more joy in life through equine-assisted activities and therapies.
Joy Ride was founded in 2009 by Karen Abbot, Kassie Collins, Jackie McDonald, Peggy Wagner, and Robert Wagner to help special needs people. They typically have a full Fall program which includes 60-70 clients of all ages. They provide both physical and occupational therapy and have both a physical and occupational therapist on staff.  Jennifer showed us a few photos of their site and then a video (http://joyridecenter.org/joyride-videos.html) from their web site. Jennifer explained that they have a number of volunteers and rely for about 66% of their budget from private donations. They take no government funding. At the end of Jennifer's presentation, Rotary president Dan Lowe presented Joy Ride with a $1,000 check to support their efforts. Jennifer thanked the Rotary Club and then asked Sheryl Thompson (the mother of an autistic, non-verbal boy who has been at Joy ride for some time) to tell the group about how Joy Ride has helped her son.
Sheryl Thompson held up a small purple T-Shirt that belonged to her autistic son when he was younger. Fighting back emotional tears of joy, Sheryl told the group that her son would hunt for his Joy ride t-shirt whenever he wanted to go ride horses and that was almost daily even though he only rode once a week. It was the one thing that he really liked to do and really got happy over. She told everyone how her son would trow a temper tantrum when he first got on the horse because he wanted the horse to move immediately. However, with the help of the Joy Ride team, he soon learned that he had to wait for the ride and that became normal for him. Now he loves to lay all over the horses back when riding and seems totally content on the back of a horse.
For more information about the Joy Ride Center, its team, and what it offers, please go to: http://joyridecenter.org/.