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Highlights from Our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Five years ago, everything changed for Ride On St. Louis when we took a leap of faith, fleeing the threat of rising floodwater. Now, we're unveiling a new “Forever Home” where horses and hope will come together to transform lives!

 

Ride On St. Louis helps kids and adults with disabilities thrive. But after repeated flooding wrought havoc time and time again, we knew we needed a new home for our service horses and program participants to safely flourish, uninterrupted. Ride On St. Louis has persisted to keep serving the most vulnerable during the relocation project, and now the future is even brighter for kids and adults in need.


Ride On St. Louis celebrated a significant milestone with a ribbon-cutting ceremony of our new Forever Home, held Friday, March 15th, 2024. Located in Hillsboro, Jefferson County, Missouri the new 27 acre property will facilitate the organization's life-changing programs.



The ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by 35 Ride On St. Louis supporters, was a wonderful occasion. Among the attendees were community leaders, news media, members of the board of directors and Forever Home cabinet, program participants, and volunteers throughout Ride On St. Louis's 26-year history, many of whom have played a crucial role in making Ride On St. Louis's new home a reality.



The ceremony began with the blessing of Ride On St. Louis, the barn, and property by Fr. Stephen En Suan Lian, Associate Pastor at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Hillsboro. The event was marked by the joint cutting of the ribbon by Ride On St. Louis Board President Dominic Lampasi, who is the Vice President of Personality Sales at Premiere Networks, an iHeartMedia, Inc. Company; and Ride On St. Louis Co-Founder and CEO Marita Wassman, symbolizing the official acquisition of the new property. Grant Manager, Equine Trainer BriAnn Session and Co-Founder and former ED Rick Wassman held the ribbon, with key members of our history positioned in-between. Key members pictured from left to right include: Silver Service members (25+ year service to Ride On St. Louis) Al Parker, Elaine Kubicki, and Andrea Parker; board director Diane Eagen; Denim & Diamonds cabinet Alex Wisniewski; board director David Goetz; Denim & Diamonds cabinet co-chair Laurel Walters; Forever Home campaign advisor Stefanie Stark; Denim & Diamonds cabinet Chris Boyer; and Denim & Diamonds cabinet Brandi Malutinok. During the event, guests were treated to refreshments and appetizers, provided by Tina Becker and Dan Man Coffee, while having the opportunity to view the property, barn, and Phase I renovation plans.


“This is an incredible achievement we are celebrating, and we can’t wait to transition operations later in the year, so that we can welcome more people in need to equine-assisted services,” says CEO and Co-Founder Marita Wassman. Ride On St. Louis has a waitlist of 116 hopeful individuals seeking the benefits of equine-assisted services, living with diagnoses such as autism, Down syndrome, PTSD, and various rare chromosomal and global abnormalities. “I don’t know what it was that drew me to [horses, but] I would not be alive without Ride On St. Louis… they have changed my life,” says Josh Ketchum a current program participant.


The future looks bright for Ride On St. Louis, with plans in place for building out a barn, adding nearly 6,000 feet of fencing for turnouts and an arena. These projects, along with the complete purchase of the property, are anticipated to be completed by the end of 2024. Upcoming plans also include the demolition of a structure and preparing the base of the barn for building stalls. Additionally, immediate plans include replacing many of the existing wood beams and foundation posts in the barn. To date, a small structure has already been demolished through the donated labor and equipment of Brad Langeneckert and removed from the property, and the future barn/stable existing structure has been gutted and prepared for utility updates and grading.


Approximately $1.6M of the $3.66 million relocation project (5-year program, capital and endowment goals) has been secured thus far, thanks to the generous stewardship of private donors and grantors. This total goal amount includes program expansion and added staff positions, property acquisition and improvements, and an endowment fund.



There will be opportunities for volunteers and skilled laborers to get involved in the project, further fostering a sense of community around Ride On St. Louis's mission. The organization's upcoming fundraising event, Denim & Diamonds, will be held on April 25th in support of the Forever Home project. The event, a private dinner at the Fox Run Golf Course Carriage House, will feature speaker Becky Domyan, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of Audacy St. Louis, overseeing iconic local audio brands such as KMOX, KFTK, Y98, 102.5 KEZK, Hot 104.1, and 96.3 R&B For the Lou. For information on attendance or event support, please call Marita at 636.464.3408 or email info@rideonstl.org


Concurrently, Ride On St. Louis's programs continue with community partners and participants at the interim site in Cedar Hill. Volunteers and those interested in completing a waitlist application, call 636.464.3408. Ride On St. Louis's new Forever Home represents more than just a new facility; it symbolizes hope, healing, and the unwavering dedication of a community coming together to make a difference. With continued support, Ride On St. Louis will continue to positively impact the lives of individuals through the power of equine-assisted services.



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