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home : sports : local sports October 1, 2020

7/22/2020 11:29:00 AM
Hope On Horseback
Shining Hope Farms prepares for benefit golf tournament and more
Young patient Betzi Diaz of Lincoln County is helped by occupational therapist Lynne Knox and Oreo the horse at Shining Hope Farms near Lucia.(Photos Courtesy Shining Hope Farms)
Young patient Betzi Diaz of Lincoln
County is helped by occupational
therapist Lynne Knox and Oreo the
horse at Shining Hope Farms near Lucia.

(Photos Courtesy Shining Hope Farms)
(Left) Elaine Leonard sits atop her mount. (Right) Richard Broome is joined by Gideon the horse.
(Left) Elaine Leonard sits atop her
mount. (Right) Richard Broome is
joined by Gideon the horse.

Thomas Lark
Staff Writer

LUCIA––It’s all about providing hope on horseback.

It’s Shining Hope Farms, and for the past 18 years, this nonprofit therapeutic riding center has been making a difference in the lives of countless special-needs children and adults, according to executive director Milinda Kirkpatrick. There’s something about riding a horse that stimulates the rider’s spine and mind, and as Kirkpatrick recently explained, this relatively new therapy––around now for only about a generation––provides amazing relief and much improvement for countless clients suffering from cerebral palsy, autism, Down’s syndrome, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, hypotomia and more.

Equine therapy has also been shown to help military veterans coping with the stress of painful memories and injuries. Kirkpatrick added that Shining Hope now has a program for veterans as well.

It’s a quiet and peaceful place, surrounded by woods, just outside of Lucia (and there are now sister locations for Shining Hope in Mecklenburg and Catawba counties, too). Riding a horse around a huge dirt ring can be very soothing, as veteran horsewoman and crime novelist Jody Jaffe has noted. When you connect with that horse, Jaffe has said, something magical happens.

And bringing that kind of healing magic to its clients is what Shining Hope is all about. But Shining Hope’s more than 35 trained and certified staffers and 25 horses can’t do it alone, as Kirkpatrick revealed.

To that end, to help raise money for this worthy cause, the Verdict Ridge Golf Course in Denver will be the scene of an inaugural charity tournament to benefit Shining Hope Farms, Monday, Oct. 5. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. The shotgun start is at 11 a.m., and the tournament ends at 4 p.m. Dinner follows at 5 p.m. at Guilties Bistro, and there will also be an awards presentation and a silent auction. Lunch, dinner and the auction are all included in the cost: $125 for an individual or $500 for a foursome. A hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit Shining Hope.

“It’s time to get outside, enjoy the sun and play some golf for a good cause!” said Kirkpatrick. “This event will support Shining Hope Farms’ mission of enabling children and adults to reach their full potential through the use of equine-assisted activities and therapies.

“This is more than just a golf tournament,” she added. “You will join friends, neighbors, colleagues and local businesses for a full day of camaraderie, all in support of a good cause: providing hundreds of local children and adults with emotional, developmental, educational, medical or behavioral challenges with the opportunity to obtain unique and effective therapies at little or no cost to them.”

Not a golfer, but you still want to get involved? You can, says Kirkpatrick.

“We are also looking for sponsors to support this awesome event,” she said. “Becoming a sponsor is a great opportunity to reach a broad range of community members, network and display your products and services.”

You may reach out to Shining Hope by e-mail at or call (704) 827-3788 for sponsorship opportunities, as Kirkpatrick informed.

“We thank all of you for continuing to Support Shining Hope Farms,” she said, “and we cannot wait for you to join us in making this golf tournament a huge success!”

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