Raising Funds, Raising Hopes

by Leanne Haase Geobel

Watching severely handicapped children perform intricate moves on the back on a horse deeply impacted William Shatner. After seeing a late-1980s performance by the therapeutic riding group Ahead with Horses, Shatner said, "You can't watch these kids without knowing that you have to help, somehow."

So Shatner and actor Patrick Duffy co-founded the Hollywood Charity Horse Show in 1990 to raise money for Ahead with Horses. Other charities that help children have subsequently been added, including Children's Hospital Los Angeles, The Painted Turtle, and Camp Max Straus.

Through his work with the Hollywood Charity Horse Show and his support of Ahead with Horses, Shatner has witness the benefits of therapeutic riding in improving the lives of the disabled. A horse's gentle and rhythmic movements help those with decreased cognitive physical, and emotional disabilities. Riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in verbalization, flexibility, balance, muscle tone, motor development, and emotional health.

Shatner is a celebrity guest of the Le Cadeau du Cheval mural mosaic, currenlty on tour across the country (www.muralmosaic.com). His panel, No. 206, was painted by artist Lewis Lavoie from a favorite photograph of Shatner on horseback by photographer Daryl Weisser. In Lavoie's painting Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before, Shatner is galloping his horse across a cratered planet with a spiral galaxy in the distance, a reference to Shatner's iconic performanve on the television series Star Trek

Shatner is also the spokesperson for the William and Elizabeth Shatner/JNF Therapeutic Riding Consortium for Israel, which supports therapeutic riding programs that serve people of all religious, economic, and cultural backgrounds. Last year it funded 11 programs across Israel.

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