September marked a huge milestone for the Equestrian Aid Foundation (EAF). The 16-year-old nonprofit has now distributed more than $2 million in aid for medical, healthcare, rehabilitation and essential expenses - such as housing and food - to its recipients throughout their time of need. EAF financially assists equestrians, horsemen and equine-related professionals who are suffering from catastrophic illnesses and injuries.
Currently the EAF provides funding for severe illnesses, major injuries and critical medical emergencies for 25 recipients totaling nearly $15,000 per month. The EAF reached its $1 million mark in grant funding in July of 2008 and received its 100th application for assistance at the beginning of this year.
“This milestone is so much more than a number. It represents all the people who have needed the Equestrian Aid Foundation to get through a really tough time, as well as all the donors who understood the responsibility we have as equestrians to take care of our own,” said R. Scot Evans, president of the EAF and one of its several founders. “Thanks to our many donors through the years, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has been able to make a monumental difference in the lives of so many that share our passion for horses and horse sports.”
Established in 1996 as the Equestrian AIDS Foundation, financially assisting those in the equestrian community with HIV/AIDS, the organization expanded its mission in 2006 to
provide assistance to those suffering from a catastrophic accident, injury or illness and changed its name to the Equestrian Aid Foundation.
With tougher economic times, the number of applications continue to rise, creating a greater need for funding. The majority of donations come from individuals or family foundations who are involved with the horse community as an owner, rider or enthusiast. Donations and memberships can be made online at www.equestrianaidfoundation.org .
Recipients have few similarities, other than a need for assistance and their love of horses. They come from all walks of life – riders (professional and amateur), farriers, show organizers, trainers and managers; diverse disciplines – both Western and English; well-known competitors and pleasure riders; ages ranging from 12 to 70; and living in all parts of the country – both urban and rural.
“Our recipients are mostly ordinary people with an extraordinary love of horses,” said Janise Gray, director of grant recipient services for the EAF and one of its former executive directors. As an integral part of the EAF since its inception, Gray added “I am privileged and honored to know our recipients as I do. They have changed my life with their indomitable spirit, spirituality and love – of life and horses.
“Our many generous benefactors enable EAF to give its recipients the dignity, quality of life and the most fundamental – hope – they deserve.” Gray concluded, “The ride for hope is more than a motto for those involved with the EAF – it’s also the ride for life.”
Each application is reviewed independently by a committee comprised of members of the board of directors. Benefits are determined by many factors and based on available funding. “Fundraising during the last several years with a struggling economy has been a challenge, however, we are thankful to have had the financial means to continue our mission.
We rely on the horse community to “care for our own” in times of need and greatly appreciate those who continue to support the Equestrian Aid Foundation.”
The EAF is a 501 (c) 3 organization and donations are tax deductible to the extent of the law. To learn more about the EAF and its memberships, donations and corporate sponsorships, visit www.equestrianaidfoundation.org , www.facebook.com/EAF.Ride4Hope , twitter @ride4hope or call 800.792.6068.