EQUESTRIAN AID FOUNDATION: HELPING EQUESTRIANS IN NEED
You don’t plan for a catastrophic accident or illness, but they do happen. The dictionary defines catastrophic as life threatening and requiring health services so serious in nature as to necessitate extensive long term and expensive medical treatment. The dictionary also defines catastrophic as something completely awful or very bad. Those definitions are the living reality of the recipients of the Equestrian Aid Foundation (EAF).
The Equestrian Aid Foundation was founded in 1996 by six time Olympic Dressage rider Robert Dover, together with R. Scot Evans, Gene Mische, Mason Phelps, Jr., Robert Ross and Kim Tudor. Established as a 501(c)3 organization, it was initially known as the Equestrian AIDS Foundation, with the first board directive stating the EAF would provide direct support to equestrians living with HIV/AIDS. And provide they did, helping equestrians in need for the next 10 years.
By its 10 Year Anniversary in 2006, the EAF had grown and expanded its mission statement to not only assist horse people living with HIV/AIDS, but also to include horse people suffering from other catastrophic illnesses and injuries. Horse people are not just defined as riders — the term horse people includes grooms, farriers, trainers, vet techs, judges, show officials, and many more job descriptions for the men, women and children — professionals and amateurs alike — in the equestrian industry.
While there are costs related to running any organization, the EAF was founded on the premise and the promise that almost every penny raised would go to those who need it most. The EAF Board of Directors and staff does this by keeping operating expenses to a minimum through in-kind donations of services and by keeping administrative costs as low as possible.
In its 17 years, the EAF has distributed over $2.2 million to its recipients from funds raised from many kind and generous donors. It has never turned away anyone who meets its criteria. Funds donated to the EAF are provided directly to the petitioning equestrian or his or her representative. These funds are used to provide various personal essentials that may include medical needs, health insurance, food and housing, transportation, physical therapy, nursing care and more. Each year, the EAF assists more and more fellow equestrians.
The EAF prides itself on how it delivers service; quickly and efficiently, while keeping each applicant’s dignity and privacy in the forefront. As Director of Grant Recipient Services, Janise Gray states, “We are small enough to be personal, but large enough to make a huge difference in the lives of those we are assisting.”
The common denominator for all in the equestrian community is a shared love of horses. The recipients of the EAF share this common bond; however they are too ill or injured to continue bringing in income, and ongoing living expenses plus the added expenses of medical care do indeed keep coming. The EAF is here for them — not only to provide much needed financial assistance, but much needed hope as well!
Because of the generous donations of its compassionate supporters, the EAF has been able to change the definition of the lives of its recipients — from something completely awful or very bad to something completely awesome and very good! The messages from its recipients are straightforward and heartfelt, “Thank you!”
PICTURES AND CAPTIONS
Destiny – Elizabeth, Colorado
Let me start by saying thank you. It’s pretty tough to be going through this on my own, but feeling like the EAF is on my side is so much more of a kind gesture than you know.
Loren – Potlatch, Idaho
Thank you to all of you at the EAF! I have certainly experienced for better and for worse in my life; this isn’t the worst; but this is very hard.
Nan – Fairfield, Florida
I am so grateful for your organization and what it has done for me over the years.