In 2006, Sandy Michalewicz followed her heart and opened Victory Reins Therapeutic Riding Center. Located in Peotone, the Center serves children and adults from 3 years to 76 years old, with special needs spanning physical, emotional, neurological, and psychological. It provides a unique type of therapy via caring for, connecting with, and riding horses.
When Sandy was in 8th grade, her father survived a serious illness, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. She witnessed his decade-long struggle with learning to walk again. His determination and the will to walk had a profound impact on Sandy and sparked the idea to help others in their struggles through the special bond that comes from being with a horse, one of her other passions in life. “We believe in miracles here at Victory Reins and strive to encourage our clients to look beyond their physical emotional and mental barriers and just believe that, with hard work and determination, they can achieve the impossible if they only believe. Sometimes the impossible just takes a little longer.”
Today, Victory Reins serves more than 50 people from early April through late November, with individualized lessons that consist of grooming, bathing, feeding, cleaning a stall, riding, turning out horses and watching them play. Of their regular participants, more than 40% are from Beverly. Local resident, Alvin Green, has been taking his son Aiden there for seven years. After years of intensive therapy to help manage autism, Aiden has thrived from this alternative approach, which has made him more confident, aligned, and full of joy. The horses are very “calm and gentle” with the riders, and connect with them in a “non-verbal and emotional” manner. “Like the credit card commercial says—the joy on Aiden’s face when he is on a horse is priceless,” said Alvin.
Victory Reins charges a small fee for each session, just $25, but the results with participants have been remarkable. The Center is a non-profit organization that relies on the support of donors to provide its services at a reasonable cost. They hold an annual Candlelight Bowl fundraiser every year to help offset the burden on the families they serve. Tickets are on sale now, $30.00 per person for dinner and bowling, plus lots of amazing raffles silent auction items. It is held on Saturday May 9, 2015 at 7:00 @ Orland Bowl. 8601 W 159th Place in Orland Park. Email Sandy@victoryreins.org to RSVP. Many of the horses and equipment have been donated, while corporate and family support, as well as donations from organizations like Girl Scout troops, and others help support operations and financial aid for children in need of assistance.
The Beverly Area Arts Alliance, founder of the Beverly Art Walk, is proud to support the Victory Reins Therapeutic Riding Center at the upcoming Horse of a Different Color exhibit opening at Horse Thief Hollow, 7pm on March 31st. The exhibit will feature equestrian-themed paintings, drawings, photography, and assemblage by local artists. All proceeds from the opening’s raffle sales will be donated to Victory Reins. Raffle items will include a “beertail” reception with food and craft beer pairings, donated by Chef Alvin Green, work by local artists, and more. “Upon learning of this amazing resource for so many families in Beverly, particularly in conjunction with the theme of our next exhibit, it made perfect sense to support Victory Reins. I hope we can help raise awareness for the Center, especially for those who could benefit from their services, as well as funds for operations or scholarship.” Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and will be sold beginning March 15th at BAPA and Tranquility, as well as at the exhibit opening at Horse Thief Hollow on March 31. The drawing will take place at the opening; winner need not be present.
To learn more about Victory Reins, visit www.victoryreins.org; for more information about the Beverly Area Arts Alliance and the 2015 Beverly Art Walk, visit www.beverlyarts.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.