Quantum Leap Farm’s inaugural Stirrup Hope raises thousands for the equine-assisted therapy facility. The event took place on March 21st, 2015 with over 350 guests in Quantum’s riding arena in Odessa.
The first-time event raised 38% of the organization’s total budget and promises to be a staple of the fundraising efforts for the farm moving forward. Fifteen sponsors including TECO Energy underwrote the total expenses for Stirrup Hope leaving the total income from the night to benefit Quantum programs.
Highlights of the evening included an open-bar cocktail hour with “Strawberry Stirrup” cocktails, a steak and chicken dinner catered by Outback Steakhouse, a compelling video created by Phil Celli and moving testimonials from current Quantum participants. Guests were adorned in “country cosmopolitan” outfits with cowboy boots, and the event closed with dancing and live music by Ocean Road.
Kevin Holmberg, a participant in Quantum’s therapeutic riding program spoke at the event, sharing how his relationship with a horse named Johnny brought him healing after experiencing a traumatic brain injury in a car accident several years ago. Kevin has been riding at Quantum for 4 years, and in addition to other types of therapy has regained his ability to walk and speak.
Joe Wilcher, an active army soldier also shared his story with the audience, bringing many to tears. After being deployed during his son’s first four years of life, Joe came home to find out his son was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal disease that has significantly shortened his son’s life span. Joe shared how the staff at Quantum has helped his son and brought hope to their family.
“A huge ‘thank you’ to Edie, for chasing her dreams because we all now get to be a part of those dreams and share something very special: Quantum Leap Farm,” says Patty Bates, a Stirrup Hope guest and wife of a participant in the program.
The idea for Stirrup Hope came from Sue Levitt, Quantum’s Director of Development who’s been in the fundraising industry for over 20 years. Levitt organized many similar events for other local non-profits and saw the potential impact an event of this size could make for the clients of Quantum. Levitt, however, didn’t anticipate the first year of the event to be so hugely successful.
“Quantum is such a special place and that begins with not only the setting but the people. It was really a team effort between the board, volunteers, staff and the donors who so generously support us,” says Levitt.
Quantum Leap Farm has been serving the Tampa Bay area since 2000 and is home for people of all ages and abilities including wounded veterans, military families, children with cancer, and people with disabling diseases. The farm offers comprehensive equine-assisted therapy programs including therapeutic riding, Hippotherapy, At EASE group therapy and Family Fun Days. The focus of Quantum’s efforts is on bringing healing to the entire family and using horses to help participants regain strength, confidence and connectedness.
“Our participants are the most amazing individuals – they demonstrate daily the human capacity for emotional and physical strength, resiliency, integrity and adaptability, and they constantly remind us how interdependent and beautiful we all are,” says Founder and Executive Director, Edie Dopking, Ph.D.
Dopking founded the farm 15 years ago after her longtime love for horses converged with her academic endeavors in Aging Studies Research to reveal the developmental benefits of equine therapy for adults. Seeing that few other riding centers in the area offered programs for adults, Dopking created Quantum Leap Farm, a place where children and adults could seek the benefits of the horse-human bond and have some fun at the same time.
Quantum is planning to host another Stirrup Hope on March 12, 2016 and has already begun making plans. Until then, the staff and participants are feeling grateful and re-energized by the generosity of the guests and supporters of the Farm.
If you would like to be involved in Stirrup Hope 2016, please call 813-920-9250. For more information about Quantum Leap Farm, please visit www.QuantumLeapFarm.org. To support the farm, donations can be given online or mailed to Quantum Leap Farm, 10401 Woodstock Rd., Odessa, FL 33556.