When Sprout Therapeutic Riding and Education Center opened in October 2011, executive director Brooke Waldron never dreamed the nonprofit organization would quickly exceed its ridership growth goals by more than 400 percent.
As the first fully accessible barn in Northern Virginia, Sprout's state of the art facility in Aldie provides therapeutic riding lessons for people with special needs. With eight horses and both indoor and outdoor riding areas, Sprout works with an average of 56 riders each week serving people of all ages from across Loudoun County.
"We work with children who have Down's Syndrome, or people who have low tone or are regaining strength after an injury," said Waldron.
"Riding is the most closely aligned to walking for getting joint mobility back," she added.
Sprout's 5K and 1K Fun Run Fundraiser hopes to bring the community together to promote growth. "We see growth in a holistic sense," Waldron said.
With 171 volunteers led by Sprout's administrative director Cathy Maddox, who recently received the Volunteer of the Year award as well as Volunteer Team of the Year from Loudoun County, Sprout hopes that as their level of community service grows, they're able to support and give more to the people who need it most.
Clyde's Willow Creek Farm in the Broadlands will serve as the host and sponsor of the Oct. 27 race, which pairs with their Fall Festival that begins afterward.
"Every runner gets a race T-shirt, drink and sandwich from Clyde's," Waldron added.
Waldron said they're working with Loudoun County Public Schools to challenge the schools to sign up runners. "We have a huge Sprout Cup which will go to the school who has the most participating at the race," Waldron said.
With a goal of 1,000 runners this year, Waldron acknowledges it's a huge task, but hopes people will come out to support their cause.
"All of our riders are subsidized," she said. "We offset some of the cost. It costs us $128 per student per hour and we charge $55. So we are constantly trying to make up the difference to keep it affordable for people," Waldron said.
Jill Pope of Sterling brings her 4-year-old son, Daniel, who has Down's Syndrome. They have already signed up for a second session at Sprout.
"Physically the lessons have done a lot for our son," Pope said. "He is walking taller and straighter. Brooke incorporates everything in the class and he loves the horse. It has made a huge difference in his growth," Pope added.