For immediate release: October 29, 2013
Contact: Laura W. Smith, 571-331-7709
For more information: http://new.lmutest.com/
Lift Me Up! Therapeutic Riding Program held its annual gala—Soiree Parisienne on Saturday night, October 26, 2013 at Mon Ami Gabi located in the Reston Town Center.
Over 200 guests filled the restaurant and enjoyed a lovely evening that began with champagne cocktails and appetizers for the first of four delicious courses. Roosters set in an autumnal nest adorned each table, consistent with the French country theme. Great Falls residents and Gala co-Chairs, Mary Smith and Ambre McLaughlin planned a wonderful evening.
“It was a smashing success…there is no substitute for very hard work and Mary and Ambre rose to the task. The staff at Mon Ami Gabi was superb,” commented Board President Bob Best.
The evening featured awards presented by Bob Best and riders from Lift Me Up! The first service award was given to Bill Buseman, for building enormous new barn doors for their facility. Jennifer Lucier, former Board President and volunteer coordinator for the program also received accolades for her many contributions to Lift Me Up! Recognition was also given to Andy Briscoe of the Sugar Association. Briscoe in turn acknowledged the donations of wine and spirits by Craig Wolf (representing the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America) and Joe McClain (from the Beer Institute)and Peter Cressy (of Distilled Spirits Council of the United States).
Rachael Wessell, an adult rider living with cerebral palsy, shared a moving testimony about how therapeutic riding gives her some independence. Rachael uses a wheelchair and requires constant assistance of a therapy dog (Dawson—also in attendance) and an aide. Riding gives her some autonomy allowing her to steer and essentially walk using the horse’s legs. Her presentation concluded with her dog Dawson presenting program director Georgia Bay with a gift.
Live and silent auctions were also featured. Among the auction items were a week-long stay at Bethany Beach, fine jewelry from Adeler Jewelers and the Tiny Jewel Box, a stay at Middleburg’s Salamander Resort, trips to the Homestead and Ritz Carlton as well as tickets to Wizards, Capitals and Nationals games —and accompanying sports memorabilia . Sponsors included: Access National Bank, KPMG, The Saba Group, The Sugar Association, Guardian Realty, Virginia Heritage Bank, BOWA, Allegra Printing and Sila-SG.
The Lift Me Up! Gala is the primary fundraising event for the 38 year old program that has provided thousands of therapeutic horseback riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities at its Great Falls stable. Lift Me Up! launched a program for injured veterans called BITS (Back in the Saddle). Each week over 100 riders develop new riding skills that enhance their core strength, balance, coordination and confidence. Lift Me Up! trains volunteers age 14 and older to assist with the therapeutic riding lessons as sidewalkers and leaders. This is a very special equestrian program that engages the best of humanity with extraordinary horses to provide a healing experience for those in our community who are most challenged. Each year hundreds of volunteers donate nearly 10,000 hours of service to support individuals with disabilities and their families. Maintaining a facility with 13 horses, and specially trained instructors, is expensive; the cost of lessons accounts for less than half
of the actual cost.
Lift Me Up! Inc. is a community organization that relies on financial and in-kind donations from individuals and corporations. It is a 501(c)3 corporation and participates in the United Way #8266 Combined Federal Campaign CPF # 70459. See http://new.lmutest.com/ for more information.