The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South student’s love of horses leads to Wings of Hope

Claude Jones, riding Boomer, practices circles and figure eights with the goal of making a circle around Allison Griggs, South Campus student, without touching her finger tips but staying as close as possible. Griggs is a volunteer at Wings of Hope, a therapuetic riding program for people with disablilties.
Claude Jones, riding Boomer, practices circles and figure eights with the goal of making a circle around Allison Griggs, South Campus student, without touching her finger tips but staying as close as possible. Griggs is a volunteer at Wings of Hope, a therapuetic riding program for people with disablilties.

By Susan Tallant/editor-in-chief

Claude Jones, riding Boomer, practices circles and figure eights with the goal of making a circle around Allison Griggs, South Campus student, without touching her finger tips but staying as close as possible. Griggs is a volunteer at Wings of Hope, a therapuetic riding program for people with disablilties.
Claude Jones, riding Boomer, practices circles and figure eights with the goal of making a circle around Allison Griggs, South Campus student, without touching her finger tips but staying as close as possible. Griggs is a volunteer at Wings of Hope, a therapuetic riding program for people with disablilties.

Owning a horse is not always a possibility for city girls. So when one South Campus equine lover found a volunteer opportunity to saddle-up, she knew she had found a good thing. What she did not know is that this newfound hobby would forever change her life.

Allison Griggs, arts and education major, found Wings of Hope, a therapeutic horseback-riding center for children and adults with disabilities.

“ I was looking for opportunities to work with children and horses,” she said. “This was the best of both worlds.”

Wings of Hope, located in Burleson, opened in 1996 with one rider who had a stroke; now the organization has 97 riders and is getting amazing results.

“ Some riders never get out of their wheelchairs,” Griggs said. “But when mounted on a horse, their body gets stimulation they otherwise would not get.”

Austin Menzmer, 13, has been riding for five years. He was born prematurely with cerebral palsy because of a stroke he suffered in the womb. Although mobile, he has paralysis in a vertical form.

“ He has never been able to walk without a limp,” Menzmer’s mother, Susan, said. “Riding has helped developed his muscles.”

Menzmer’s doctors have been recommending equine therapy for years, but it was too expensive. When the family moved to Texas, Austin’s new doctor recommended Wings of Hope because the rates are affordable, scholarships are available and no one is turned down for financial reasons.

Menzmer’s mother is excited about her son’s progress since riding horses. But she is more excited about his new self-confidence and joy that riding brings.

“ There is enough out there that he can’t do,” she said. “This gives him something he can do.”

Margaret Dickens, executive director, said therapeutic riding increases respiration, circulation, balance and motor skills. Some riders came into the program in a wheelchair and are now walking.

“ For our volunteers, it is priceless to know you had something to do with a child walking,” she said.

Griggs, whose first ride on a horse was when she started volunteering three years ago, said no experience is necessary to volunteer with Wings of Hope.

“ You just need to have a good spirit,” she said. “They will teach you the rest.”

She is now working toward becoming an instructor at the center and plans to purchase her own horse someday.

“ Allison is just an amazing person,” Dickens said. “She has found her calling.”

Griggs is one of about 50 people who volunteer at the center on a regular basis, but the center desperately needs more. Funds also are needed because the center turns no one down, and the therapy can be expensive.

“ We only charge $25 per hour for therapy, but it costs $75 to put a child on a horse,” she said.”

Griggs said Wings of Hope changes lives for both riders and volunteers.

“ It is an indescribable feeling to know that I can be just a very, very tiny part of what goes on to help all our riders,” she said on the Web site. “When you are a part of Wings of hope, you are given a pair of your very own wings and through determination you earn a lifetime worth of hope.”

For information about monetary donations, volunteer positions or riding opportunities, contact Diane Miller at 817-790-8810, or log on to the Web site at http://www.wingsofhope.us.

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