Judy Ferris

Judy Ferris saddles up on a therapeutic riding horse.

Leesburg nonprofit Loudoun Therapeutic Riding began its annual Ride-a-Thon fundraiser in August, and 78-year-old Judy Ferris helped raise over $625 — more than any other participant — in its first two weeks.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age, Ferris has had lifelong difficulties with balance and coordination, struggles that she discovered could be treated through therapeutic horseback riding. She first saddled up at LTR, the oldest therapeutic riding center in Virginia, 10 years ago. Though initially intimidated by the experience, she soon found herself right at home on horseback.

Ferris’ balance and use of her hands has improved since taking up riding, and when the 2019 Ride-a-Thon began, she was among the first to sign up, enthusiastic to give back to the organization that has given her so much.

“I really want to do this [for] LTR because it has been so good to me all these years,” Ferris said in a prepared statement.

Her fundraising efforts included talking to her neighbors, family and friends, as well as putting up flyers and setting up a donation basket at an event hosted by her choir. She soon became this year’s first Ride-a-Thon participant to meet and exceed her personal goal of $625, enough to care for a therapy horse’s hooves for one year.

This year’s Ride-a-Thon aims to raise $40,000 by Oct. 26. As of Sept. 18, $11,710 has been raised — 29 percent of the total goal.

“Ride-a-Thon donations make up some of the difference between our fees and the actual costs of caring for the horses, feed, veterinary care, farriers and certified instructors,” Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Executive Director and CEO Susan Koehler said in a prepared statement. “We offer scholarships to those in need and provide lessons at no cost to veterans suffering from PTSD so they may also experience the benefits of equine assisted activities at no cost to them or their families.”

More information and a link to the Ride-a-Thon donation page can be found at ltrf.org.

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