2020 has been a challenging year for Therapeion.
2019 ended with a new Board of Directors, a significant financial shortfall (those two items were related), and a crisis with one of our beloved miniature horses: Willy. We actually had some concerns about whether Therapeion -- and Willy -- would survive.
The new Board engaged in two urgent fundraising programs ("Pony Up!" and "Save Willy!"). Thanks to many people's generosity, we were able both to afford surgery for Willy's hip and cover costs for winter feed and care for the whole herd. It gave us all good cheer for the holidays, and we were prepared to come surging back in 2020.
Then came COVID-19. We don't need to describe the uncertainty and pain the virus has caused this year. If it has touched your family and friends, our condolences. We sympathize because it has run through some of our own friends and family, and we know how devastating it can be.
Therapeion's mission is to facilitate the healing of body and spirit through the interaction between humans and horses. Thus, when it became clear we couldn't be sure that everyone would be safe from the virus during classes, we canceled our spring session. Our spring fundraising events met a similar fate. We launched "Ponies vs. the Pandemic" to bridge the resulting funding shortfall, and once again, our many friends came through.
By June, the virus appeared to be fading. We held our regular classes and all went well. We were so glad to see old friends and make some new ones!
When July came along, the weather forecast was for weeks of unrelenting heat. Our horses don't do well in high heat. Neither would our students or volunteers who would be following protocols to limit virus exposure (full sleeves and long pants, plus face masks). Therefore, after polling our client families, we postponed the July classes to August.
Sadly, cases of COVID-19 shot up over July. Even though we follow best-practice medical guidelines in classes, we decided the risk was again too significant to hold classes. Some of our clients and volunteers have pre-existing health conditions that would put them at grave risk if they were to catch COVID-19. We reluctantly canceled the August classes.
We are now approaching the start of our fall classes (September and October) with cautious optimism. We look forward to seeing all our clients interacting with our horses and volunteers once again. When classes resume, we want everyone to remember to pay close attention to our health rules. Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation: our priority is always to provide a healthy, safe, and fun environment. Monitor our web site and Facebook pages for any updates.
So far, 2020 has been a year of ups and downs. But thanks to all of you, we're still here, still optimistic, and looking forward to serving our community. Stay safe and well, and heels down!