Carousel Ranch hosted their 21st Annual Heart of The West dinner, auction, and children’s riding demonstration on Saturday, uniting over 650 people for a night of fundraising.
Being taken care of from the second they stepped foot on the ranch, guests danced, bid on auctions, and ate from a long buffet line.
Booths and stages were set up throughout to ensure a lively event.
Behind the party, was an organization looking to help children in need.
Becky Graham and Denise Redmond started their equestrian therapy and vocational training programs 20 years ago, starting with just one student.
After going to school to be a physical therapist, Graham worked at a similar program in order to complete her community service hours. There, she befriended Redmond and, after working together, later decided to start their own practice “just for fun.”
“I knew from doing this kind of work for 12 years, how powerful it was,” said Graham in an interview with the Signal. “I decided ‘let’s just try it with a few’ and 20 years later we’ve served thousands.”
According to Graham, now the program director, they have helped thousands of children by way of equestrian therapy and hope to increase that number. The program hosts over 80 children a week at the 10 acre ranch in Agua Dulce.
The annual fundraiser accounts for close to 40 percent of their yearly budget and serves to show the community what the program is all about.
“We do a live demonstration so that all of our guests can see what we do and what these kids are capable of,” said Graham.
Long time student of the program, Anthony Fagioli has been attending Carousel Ranch since he was two years old.
Now 16, Faggioli loves horseback riding and finds it the most helpful therapy he has tried.
“When you’re stretching [on] the horse, it’s a lot different than when you’re stretching at home. The stretch is better in like a short amount of time,” said Faggioli.
He was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy that affects all four limbs but attributes his ability to walk and stay in balance to the horseback riding and therapy he has received at Carousel Ranch.
Faggioli gave a riding demonstration at the night’s event and was given a ribbon of accomplishment. He is aiming to attend an east coast college after graduating high school and plans to find a similar program there.
For other young adults, “Ready To Work!”, the vocational training program at Carousel Ranch, teaches students with disabilities the necessary skills to survive a workplace and has already helped many find jobs in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The fundraiser on Saturday allowed all those involved in the program, from students to volunteers, to celebrate and acknowledge the accomplishments of Carousel Ranch, and gave the SCV community a chance to help the cause.