Volunteering at the fair was a blast! Anyone who’s been to the Kentucky state fair in Louisville knows it presents a variety of great opportunities… From people watching, to roasted corn on the cob, to the many animals, to the countless booths selling trinkets, to fudge… I could go on and on! Add to that the fun of sharing what we do at the therapeutic riding center with the general public, and it was definitely an experience I would like to repeat next year!
Perhaps the most touching aspect of the experience was how generous people – especially children – can be. Most of the donations we received while I was responsible for working the booth came from little kids who saw the booth while their parents were busy looking at the truck parts booth located directly across the aisle from ours.
The children would come over and peer up at the pictures that covered our signs and were posted all around the booth. After also examining the cardboard cutouts of horses that some of our riders had made, he or she would scamper back to tug on the pants of either mom or dad (or both). After convincing the parent to make a donation, the boy or girl would bring the money over and put it in the jar with a smile. It was touching how many young children seemed to understand immediately that we were doing things to help other kids and wanted to help.
Adults, on the other hand, had more mixed reactions. Ranging from sympathy, to discomfort, to confusion, it felt like I had heard it all after only nine hours spent in the booth. Some adults were genuinely interested and supportive, but some I could tell felt very uncomfortable once they realized we weren’t a “normal” stable where they could come to ride.
This unfortunate attitude toward the disabled did not seem to be held by those belonging to any one race, age or gender. Instead, it seemed to span all such social divides, reminding me of Dr. Leslie Townsend’s lectures earlier this year in a social justice class. As Dr. Townsend pointed out using a variety of sources, it seems we still have a way to go in our society with conquering certain prevailing prejudices against the mentally and physically disabled.
Overall, however the experience was very positive and we not only received donations but more importantly were able to spread the word about what we do at the therapeutic riding center. I was proud to be allowed to represent the center and made personal connections with a handful of prospective donors and potential experienced new volunteers. I hope to see one of them out at the farm very soon!