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2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Naples Therapeutic Riding Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Equestrian, Health, Human Services, Patient & Family Support, Rehabilitative Care, Sports

Mission: The mission of Naples Therapeutic Riding Center is to improve the lives of children and adults with special needs through therapeutic riding and other equine-related programs.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 640 participants and 14 nonprofit organizations

Geographic areas served: Collier County

Programs: therapeutic riding lessons, EFP and EFL sessions and summer camp

Community Stories

36 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What NEC does is absolutely amazing. The improvement from each rider is extraordinary and it has changed ME as a person. Wow. I just cannot believe that NEC does what they do. Every rider walks up with smiles on their faces ready to ride, and it's great.

1

Donor

Rating: 4

I have been a donor to NEC for the past five years and have continually been impressed by the caliber of service this organization provides to children with disabilities. The program has wonderful volunteers (my best friend being one of them)who assist the children with the horses and who take exceptional care of the horses as well. Children who participate in the program reap the benfits that only interaction with magnificent animals can provide. I am proud to be a donor and will be for years to come.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Naples Equestrian Challenge has an extraordinary staff. They are very accommodating and sincere in their efforts to better my child as well as others. The amount of patience and calmness they exude in tense situations adds a sense of comfort to the experience. My child enjoys his time there immensely. I extend my greatest thanks to the entire staff and all of those who help to support the cause. Ashley Yager

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful volunteer program that really allows you to make a difference visibly. The riders are each unique and different and loads of fun to work with and teach. I feel like I learn more about them each time I come. The horses also have their own distinct and lovely personalities, they are beautiful to watch and fun to be around. I have really enjoyed all the time I spent there and hope to continue coming for a while to come.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I feel blessed and privileged to be part of the NEC volunteer community. Seeing the happiness and excitement in the child's face as he approaches the ramp, knowing that soon he will be on his favorite horse, fills my heart. Watching them grow and progress gives me great satisfaction. Knowing that the parent can allow him/herself to sit and relax thru the duration of the lesson, because i am there to assist his/her child, makes my task even the more gratifying.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I absolutely love volunteering at NEC. There are so many opportunities to help not just with the children and families, but with the horses, around the barn, even donations. Every little bit helps. :)

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Naples Equestrian Challenge is so amazing. NEC works with Special Needs Children and Adults working with horses on occupational type skills. the child or adult is supported by 2 sidewalker (volunteers) one volunteer on each side of the horse and a leader to assist the child with the horse. It takes alot of dedication for the the child and manpower of voluteers. Seeing a Special Needs child face light up when they see the horse and seeing the parent face light up when these kids are in a lesson keeps the volunteers coming back for more. The child or adult progresses so .. working on balance skills in the saddle, verbal and directional skills, reinning the horse where to go. Besides being so important to the child and adult we work with building their skills and confidence in themselves, it is heart warming in these times to meet so many volunteers dedicated to this program to helping these kids and adults. Everyday I am there it fills me with happiness seeing these how happy it makes these kids and the volunteers and horses who work with them.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

My daughters volunteered for the Naples Equestrian Challenge at their summer camp. I came to watch one of the horse shows, and being an equestrian was quite moved by the program and what they achieved with special needs children. I immediately knew that I wanted to be part of the program and began volunteering. Many have written regarding the program and the therapy it provides. Another perk to this program that is very important is the draw to teenagers to volunteer. It is magnet for young girls, and the volunteer experience at the NEC is very powerful. For each rider, 3 volunteers are needed. We have a volunteer base of around 250. It offers volunteers of all ages a hands on opportunity to truly make a difference in someone's life. This type of meaningful volunteerism shapes futures for our younger volunteers, they come for the horses and stay for the riders.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Four years ago I carried my three year grandson to the NEC stables. He was observed and accepted as a rider. Zach couldn't walk because his hip socket was not developing with the ball in the socket. His Mother, our daughter, was told that he would need an operation--she chose riding a horse as an alternative. After four years of weekly riding at NEC, Zach is walking with a brace and is able to run. Nec has taught him balance, patience, communication skills and independence. He is able to walk without an operation. Riding has helped him with his speech, listening and concentration skills. Zach not only has special needs he is autistic. This program has helped him overcome many obstacles, without NEC we don't know where Zach would be---it has truly been a miracle that NEC has helped performed

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

People cannot immagine how much a child gains from the thereauputic actions of a horse both physically and mentally. I have volunteered at NEC for 4 years now and it's extremely rewarding. In particular when you see the progress the children make in their riding capabilities and most importantly the improvements you see in their characters....much more confidence, more outgoing, constant growth is more often than not. Wayne Learn

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was my first year volunteering at the Naples Equestrian Center. What a great organization. All the volunteers are so caring for each of the riders that we worked with each week. Being able to experience the joy that riding brings to each of these riders makes volunteering there priceless! From week to week you could see the progress the riders were making, and the bond that they develop with the horses and volunteers is amazing. I am excited to volunteer for many more years!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Andrew has been riding at NEC for a year now and it has done tremendous things for his development, muscle strength, communication and interactions with others. My son has a global developmental delay with low muscle tone. He also had moderate to severe communication issues but so much has changed for him this year and I am certain that NEC is a big reason for that! Every week he looks forward to riding and is beginning to communicate with the amazing and caring staff and the wonderful volunteers. His core muscle strength and posture has improved to the point that he will no longer require physical therapy next year. NEC is the most helpful facility we have ever used. The staff and volunteers are compassionate and love what they do and it shows. We are so grateful for this wonderful program and hope to ride there and help the facility for years to come. -Kristi Remy

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been riding at Naples Equestrian for 4 years. When we first started my daughter Lynzee was very apprensive about riding she was rigid with body movements, very restless and uncomfortable. After only a few minutes of riding we would have to tell the volunteers to stop and that Lynzee needed to be done. My husband wanted to stop saying this is "too uncomfortable for her" I said the volunteers and staff really no what they are doing lets be patient. It took about 6 months with the most patient kind loving volunteers and staff and we are proud to say Lynzee rides the full time and sits in a saddle nice and straight and might I say very proud of herself.Its the kindness and presentence that made Lynzee who she is today a very happy rider!! Thanks

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I volunteer for NEC every week.We look forward to seeing our riders and witnessing the improvemnet in their communication and flexability, but mostly in the pride they feel for their own accomplishments. It is so heart warming to hear the riders laugh out loud when they trot. The program is truly amazing, to see 3 year olds not afraid to sit on a horse when they can barely walk, or a grown man with tears of joy and excitement on his face when he is lifted on to his horse by volunteers. The best thing I ever did was to sign-up myself and my daughter for volunteer activities. We have experienced almost as much joy as the riders themselves. It is a mutually benefitting experience for all and one we personally look forward to every week. Sincerely, Mandy Romanelli.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

NEC is a very good way to help my child. We realy thanks to every people whos working there because we feel like family every time when we go to see my happy son riding the horses. God bless you.

4 ldetz

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Since my daughter was in high school ( she will be 40 this year) we have been involved with Therapeutic Riding as volunteers. This was a natural extension of our love for horses and a way to share the wonder of these magnificent animals. When my husband and I move to Naples after retirement, I looked up the local therapeutic riding location and found Naples Equestrian Challenge. I was immediately welcomed, attended their training and got involved! In the 3 years that I have been volunteering on Thursday morning, our group-staff, volunteers and riders have become close friends. We know about each others families, lives and ups and downs. We meet for lunch, email & facebook when us snowbirds are gone. I give the NEC staff credit for setting the stage and creating an environment that is warm and caring. They are also very organized and go getters. Thank you NEC!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

The NEC has an amazing program and staff. My children have done therapy riding there for several years. The program has helped to strengthen them both physcially and mentally. The staff is so loving and caring while at the same time firm in their goals for each rider. One of the best things is that my kids loved riding and loved the horses. This was therapy that didn't seem like work! I can not say enough about the NEC!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

NEC does a fantastic job of helping these riders with all kinds of things. They help teach them not only riding skills but communication skills as well. The instructors try to make sure that the riders are very hands on with the horses and strive to inhance their abilities. NEC has made a tremendous deal of progess over the years that I've been there and I truely hope to see them progress futher. My sister has had great times with the instructors and other riders thanks to the NEC program.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can't tell you what a simple joy it is to volunteer at the NEC. Everyone is always happy there and you can't help but smile too I don't care if it's been the worst day of your life when you get there and see all of the riders who have far greater problems than you do smiling and eager to ride your problems just seem to vanish. Also the horses are the sweetest calmest and most gentle animals I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tell your story here and help others understand this charity NEC is a very professional group and very safety minded. They are a wonderful group of people helping our children and adults with their disabilities. They are so supportative to both riders and volunteers. I enjoy working with the children and seeing their enjoyment in the program makes me keep volunteering. It is a very rewarding experience.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a woman with MS and never thought I would ride a horse again. The last time was 30 years ago. I was nervous and excited about starting. It has been a wonderful experience right from the beginning. I ride with several other women that also have MS. The horses are so gentle. The volunteers are amazing. I would not be able to accomplish this without them. They help us get on and off the horses and keep us safe. They are dedicated to taking care of the riders and the horses. You can always tell when a person loves what they are doing and you see it in the faces of both the riders and the volunteers. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with NEC since my son was a little boy.. He loves to ride every Saturday and always has a big smile when it is time to go riding. Recently I just took him to the Disney Campground and he was able to ride a horse by himself and did wonderful! I wanted to volunteer to give back to such a wonderful organization and a very special group of dedicated individuals! To see Mike smile and enjoy something in life is priceless to me. Not only is it the therapeutic benefits, but it is a very special part of his life.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son, who has Down Syndrome, has been riding at NEC for 3 years. During those 3 years, my daughter has been a dedicated volunteer sidewalker and leader at NEC. In addition, my husband and I have volunteered for some of the organization's special fundraising events. Our entire family is better for our involvement with this amazing organization. My son has gained confidence and poise from his riding, and his speech has improved immensely. He's so proud of his riding ability and his knowledge of how to take care of the horses! Although my daughter has always been compassionate and accepting of others, her volunteer work at NEC has taken those qualities to a whole new level. She truly loves working with the riders - her volunteer time is the highlight of her week.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with NEC mainly to participate with the horses as I think many of us may have done. However, once you experience the joy the riders recieve and see their bodies and minds respond to the therapy of riding you can never question the benefit of these programs. It has been a true joy to be part of this organization.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Riley is a special needs seven year old child who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, is developmentally delayed, non-verbal, hearing and vision impaired and has a seizure disorder. Riley is pretty involved... he cannot communicate, see or express many emotions... However he does take in his environment. It is one that we believe he looks forward to and definitely responds to. when you are as involved physically and mentally like Riley, having him respond to anything is major. Around his third birthday, we made our first visit to Naples Equestrian Challenge (NEC). A stiff breeze brought the heavy scent of the barn and horses to Riley as I pulled him out of the car. He began one of the most joyful laughs I had ever heard from him and from that moment he knew this was the place for him. He was right. This is Riley’s fifth year of riding with NEC. There have been many benefits. For Riley there is the being included. The fact that he is riding a horse, interacting with his peers, being outside, the sensation of motions and from a therapeutic standpoint, gaining strength... For his family, there is the wonderful friends we have made and seeing him laugh at the enjoyment of riding his horses. He has continually gained in strength, agility and confidence under their careful guidance. He has gained so much from the first tentative rounds of the ring to the child who sits up and screams with delight at a trot. Riley is social, so for him I think just interacting with his peers is important. But as a family we have made many wonderful friends from those who understand what we have been through and where we are going. NEC is a place of acceptance where we do not have to prove that he can improve or have the correct insurance just to keep this therapy in his life. The instructors, staff, volunteers, horses, fellow riders and their families are now part of our lives. With their help and influence, Riley has continued to gain in strength, ability and emotional well-being. As long as Riley can sit astride a horse - we will be there.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with a number of charitable and non profit groups for many years and find NEC to be a very well run and extremely worthwhile program. I became a volunteer out of my love for horses, but now the joy in volunteering is truly derived from the riders, their families, and working with the dedicated staff at NEC. I believe fully in the merits of the program and promote it as much as possible!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to volunteer at NEC but I stayed for the giggles. There are no words to describe the thrill of hearing joyful giggles from a child experiencing his/her horse responding to their "trot on" command. Off they go! Sitting so high on one of our graceful horses and feeling so brave and light. Their courage and valor is humbling. The people and horses of NEC perform miracles. I am privileged to see those miracles in action every week.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to NEC because of the horses and stayed because of the kids. There is a warm kinship among the volunteers, riders, parents, and instructors. I have seen so many positive results from this program. Riders' and parents' testimonials affirm what I have seen. One rider can now sit upright with no assistance; one rider can walk without a walker; one rider has fluent verbal communication because of this program; one rider giggles when "trots" are done during lessons.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first came to Naples Equestrian Challenge because I have a special needs granddaughter who rides in a program in Texas and I wanted to be a part of an organization like that. I've always loved horses, so it was a natural for me. The program in Naples is incredible! The staff are so dedicated and welcoming to all the riders and volunteers. The kids I work with are amazing and so happy to be with the horses. My little Elizabeth has also had a chance to ride at Naples Equestrian Challenge while visiting, and she was thrilled as all my family was while watching her ride. There's a surprisingly large group of special riders in our area, and this organization serves a truly unique need. I hope that Naples Equestrian Challenge continues to be such an important part of our community.

8

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been involved as a donor, volunteer and veterinarian with Naples Equestrian Challenge for 2 years.....each occasion to interact with staff and our wonderful clients is exceptionally positive. Seeing the patience used by instructors, horse leaders, horse sidewalkers and groomers.......is so important and so helpful to our riders who are learning and enjoying the human-animal bond at the same time. To see the expressions of glee and laughter when trotting on their horse is always a joy! Having large corporations volunteer time to help complete a project at the barn at NEC when in Naples for a corporate meeting is also excellent. To see a large insurance company or bank giving to our community and NEC keeps them in a very positive light! I just want to see NEC continue to expand their services to more and more patients/clients who can benefit from their "care!"

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

I HAVE MS AND 6 YEARS AGO I WAS PRIVILEDGED TO GET TO RIDE AT NEC. I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WALK AND NOT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE IN THE WHEELCHAIR. MY LEGS ARE STRONGER THAN THEY HAVE EVER BEEN. THE RIDING HAS GIVEN ME BACK MY LEGS. I AM LUCKY TO BE BLESSED WITH FRIENDSHIP FROM THE DIRECTORS TO ALL THE VOLUNTEERS. NEC IS LIKE ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY. EVERYONE REALLY LOVES BEING THERE AND THEY SHOW IT. I AM SO LUCKY TO HAVE BEEN CHOSEN AS AN AMBASSADOR TO SPEAK ABOUT THE GOOD WORK THEY DO, I'M ALWAYS TELLING STRANGERS I SEE WITH A CHILD WITH A DISABILITY ALL ABOUT NEC. I THANK NEC FOR GIVING ME BACK ME!

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have enjoyed every minute of my experience with NEC. The volunteers are very personable and ready to teach new volunteers how everything should be done. The staff members are very passionate about the program and do a great job of communicating and making me feel part of something so much bigger than myself. As I conducted the interviews with the parents and riders I was overwhelmed with their stories. I can tell the riders really enjoy their time with the horses and the volunteers/staff members. It's something I really can't explain but it gives me such a great feeling inside, to know that I am helping the riders do something they love and giving them that "king/queen of the world" experience that everyone deserves.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with horses for years and was a member of the National Ski Patrol for over 30 years. When I came to Naples, I sought out NEC to learn what they were doing and to help. Their teachers are so well trained and SO patient; the horses are 'saints'. The students seem to get some joy, maybe a sense of accomplishment and comeraderie. The volunteers get to feel good about helping others less fortunate. All in all, it is a wonderful experience.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found Naples Equestrian Challenge on Volunteermatch.org shortly after moving to Florida a year ago. Not being familiar with their programs, I volunteered as a sidewalker and went through their training program. From my first visit, and each subsequent trip, I've never failed to come home without a smile on my face. The work done at NEC benefits young children to mature adults with differing degrees of handicaps by offering them a chance to experience the joy of horses while exercising their bodies and minds. Sidewalkers provide an invaluable safety ingredient to successful experiences. Autistic children find dormant voices and adult MS patients exercise failing muscles. The reward for the valued voluteers are hugs and smiles, and oh yeah,3 year old Nathan's giggle as he trots! Thanks, NEC, for the opportunity to help you change lives!

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The benefits that NEC provides for its participants is beyond compare. To see the smiles on the faces of the riders... To know that the program is providing physical and mental stimulation and support for the participants... NEC is an absolutely wonderful program. The staff and volunteers are dedicated to providing assistance to those in need. If you have not visited NEC, please do so. Not only is it worth your time, but you may find yourself signing up as a volunteer.

12

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

The MOST WONDERFUL group of people in Naples! They provide horseback riding lessons for children and adults with special needs. The staff, volunteers, and the horses are outstanding! Thank you for considering this worthy organization!