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On Giving Tuesday, Neenah nonprofit makes lasting impact through therapeutic horse riding

Posted at 6:59 PM, Dec 01, 2020

NEENAH, Wis. (NBC26) -- People find different things to be therapeutic in their lives. For Paul Jones' kids with special needs, the best form of therapy comes from riding horses.

"The horse is such a gentle animal and yet such an imposing animal that they can really feel like they're [horse riders] making a difference" Jones, a father of three children with special needs, said.

BEAMING Incorporated in Neenah, Wis., gives people the opportunity to work with horses to benefit their mental and physical health.

On the worldwide "Giving Tuesday," the nonprofit hoped to earn seven thousand dollars, which goes to support its program and helps at-risk teens, children with special needs, veterans and many more.

"It really gives them [kids] confidence," Jones said. "It really puts them in a position where they get to do something that's different from what everyone else is doing. And where they get to be in charge on the big animal -- the horse."

Cindy Baumgartner's son Connor has special needs. BEAMING's horses give him strength.

"For Connor, he can control something," Bumgartner said. "He's riding a horse. He can tell it when to start and when to stop. He doesn't have a lot of control in his life so that's really great for him."

BEAMING leaders say one child with special needs spoke her first and only words to one of the horses.

"She held the horse in her hands and put her head on the horses head and said 'I love you' to the horse," BEAMING Board Member Walt Zerrenner said.

Jones says the program allowed his kids to learn to love things they once feared.

"It also gives them a chance to be more empathetic," Jones said. "They can really feel the horses mood."

But the nonprofits main goal is happiness.

"That's what it's all about," Zerrenner said.