Quantum Leap Farm, Inc., a non-profit organization located in Odessa, Florida was founded in 2000 to serve local adults with mental and physical disabilities. Quantum Leap Farm's mission is to enrich and enhance the lives of handicapped adults by engaging them in a variety of equestrian activities designed to promote and improve physical, mental, and social well being. Quantum Leap was founded also to perform research documenting the many benefits of therapeutic horseback riding.
Incorporated January 19, 2000, Quantum Leap began its service on July 1st and received its tax exempt status from the IRS on July 5th of that year. As the only therapeutic horseback riding program dedicated to adults locally, Quantum Leap’s participant volume has grown and continues to grow steadily. In 2001, our first full year of service, we provided just over 1100 riding sessions to upwards of 80 participants from Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties with the help of over 90 volunteers. Last year we served just over 800 individuals with over 6,500 therapeutic sessions, assisted by over 8,000 hours of volunteer support.
QLF participants’ ages range from 2 to 92 years and they are diagnosed with a variety of conditions including: Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Participants are referred to us by word of mouth and by other agencies serving handicapped adults. We have developed relationships with many of these agencies including: the James A. Haley Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Bay Pines Veteran's Hospital, the Family Resources Centers located on MacDill Air Force Base, the University of South Florida’s Aging Research Program, the University of South Florida’s Parkinson’s Support Group, the West Coast Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, Morton Plant Hospital’s Stroke Support Group, the MacDonald Training Center, and many others.
As a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, we seek program support from a variety of sources. We charge disabled and able-bodies riders $50.00 per riding session. Riding sessions for our handicapped clients generate only enough revenue to cover a small portion of our expenses. It is for this reason that we sponsor and/or participate in numerous fundraisers, apply for grants, negotiate discounts from our vendors, recruit participant sponsors, and solicit contributions from individual and corporate sponsors on an ongoing basis.
We have received support from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, DAV Charitable Service Trust, Hillsborough County, Gasparilla Festival, Hyde Park Village Live Music Series, Keystone Civic Association, Levi Strauss Company, Bay Area Dressage, Great Art & Frame in Westchase Village, Feather Sound Golf and Country Club, The USAA Foundation, The Junior League of Tampa, Home Depot, Operation Homefront, Bank of America, MetLife, National Non-Profit for Americans with Disabilities, Southwest Airlines, Wounded Warriors Family Support, several local AmVets Posts, ASMBA Star Foundation, Fezziwig WWJD Foundation, Friends of Military Families, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Little Everglades Steeplechase and many local individual contributors. Additionally, we were chosen as the benefiting charity for the Gasparilla Festival in 2012, hosted our most successful Quantum Leap Farm Annual Charity Golf Tournament, and we have partnered 1Voice, the proceeds of which are applied to support participation in Quantum Leap's equine therapy programs.
In 2008 we expanded our services to include At EASE sessions (Equine Assisted Self-Exploration) and EEL (Equine Experiential Learning). Offering these additional therapies allows us to include adults with a wide variety of mental and physical needs and brings us closer to our vision of being a comprehensive equestrian facility for disabled adults.
Although Quantum Leap has served active and veteran military and their families since its inception, participation sky-rocketed upon receipt in 2009 of a two-year BRAIVE Grant through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, underwriting participation of OEF/OIF (Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom) military members and their families. Military participation jumped 93% through this generous anonymous individual donor’s gift. We established Family Fun Days, a Saturday afternoon at the Farm, especially designed for military families who are facing the deployment of a parent.
In 2010, we added a Hippotherapy program (physical therapy via horses both mounted and on the ground), overseen by licensed Physical Therapist Lynn Bankston. We also installed a Sure Hands Lift to safely aid paralyzed participants in mounting our therapy horses. Our At EASE Team began a series of W.O.W. (Women of Warriors) weekend retreats for the wives and caregivers of injured soldiers.
In 2011, we served 30% more participants than the previous year! We created a special program in partnership with 1Voice, MaKayla's Hands on Horses, to serve pediatric cancer patients, pediatric cancer survivors and their families. We also added Quantum Leap Farm CEO, Patricia Fried, to the QLF roster bringing staff from 4 employees in 2000 to 8 full and part-time employees and 4 contractors in 2011. In 2011 we served over 800 individuals ranging in age from 2 to 92 years, with assistance from over 500 volunteers.
In 2012, our participant load expanded once again, with an increase of 35%. Quantum Leap Farm hired Carrie Peterson, as our second therapeutic riding instructor. Carrie helped us to expand therapeutic riding sessions into the afternoon hours. Our At EASE Team began a weekly partnership with traumatic brain injured participants from NeuroRestorative. We also offered two summer camps for children of all abilities, aged 5 through 15. Quantum's Hippotherapy program expanded into both morning and afternoon sessions and we are hosted a American Hippotherapy Association Certification Course at the Farm in September.
In the first half of 2013, we added Speech Therapist Justine Nelson to our Hippotherapy staff. Afternoons are now crowded with the ever-growing number of children that are coming to us after school. Our service to military members and their families has also expanded, thanks in part to a grant that will allow us to build a special arena to facilitate At EASE sessions, including W.O.W. (Women of Warriors) retreats and intensives for veterans with PTSD and families coping with autism and pediatric cancer. Significant partnerships this year include NeuroRestorative--a program for individuals with traumatic brain injuries, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. We are continuing our collaboration with our two local VA hospitals: James A. Haley and Bay Pines, as well as 1Voice, serving pediatric cancer patients and their families, and many others. The community rallied around with support from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation, Bank of America, Wounded Warrior Family Support, and a generous Lightning Hero Award for Quantum Leap Farm’s 12 years of service to the greater Tampa Bay area.
Quantum Leap Farm’s future plans include further expansion of our service to military participants, and additional service to a wide variety of challenged children and young people. We are very excited about the potential of our equine assisted therapies: At EASE (Equine Assisted Self Exploration) and EEL (Equine Experiential Learning) and are seeing growth in these programs. Future plans for physical expansion include the construction of a second covered arena dedicated to At EASE and EEL sessions, and an on-site administrative office.
The year ahead will be filled with challenges as we help children and their families deal with the epidemic of autism and the staggering increase in developmental issues. We’ll serve the hundreds of disabled service members and their families who are coping with devastating war injuries and the debilitating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And we’ll help to reach out to the growing number of Americans who are retiring and being touched for the first time in their lives by the physical and mental disabilities of aging.
We can keep up with this rapid rate of growth with the support of our community. Join us and together we can provide therapeutic equine services and the healing spirit of Quantum Leap Farm to our challenged and disabled neighbors, families and friends. With your support, we can continue to expand our individual contributor base and develop our endowment fund to ensure that Quantum Leap Farm remains a viable and long-lived resource for Tampa Bay Area adults and children with disabilities.