State Senator Dale Fowler is proud to announce a $200,000 member initiative grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to Specialized Equine Services at Giant City Stables.
“This facility has been instrumental in serving as a resource to our veterans and those with disabilities in making sure they have the ability to find therapeutic benefits in horseback riding,” said Senator Fowler. “Member initiative grants are a great way to enhance and grow opportunities throughout the district and it’s been a great honor to see this grant come to fruition.”
Specialized Equine Services is a non-profit organization specializing in therapeutic horseback riding mostly for children, adults, and veterans with mental, physical and cognitive disabilities.
“Through the Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan, the Pritzker Administration has prioritized critical investments in Southern Illinois that are decades overdue,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Acting Director Kristin A. Richards. “I am thrilled that visitors from across the region will be welcomed to Giant City State Park with gleaming new facilities. There is no better way to showcase Illinois as the ‘Middle of Everything’ than a horseback ride through one of our most beautiful state parks.”
Funding through this state grant will primarily be used for the construction of a new building.
“With our current building we are only able to operate eight months out of the year due to inclement weather,” said Giant City Stables owner Ramona Twellman. “This new building is much needed as we have simply outgrown our current location, and it will allow for important amenities like special lifts to be moved indoors and used year-round.”
Kevin MacDonald, President of Specialized Equine Services, says this funding will pay for the removal of the current inadequate riding arena, site prep, sidewalks, and construction of a functional riding arena.
“When we originally went for this grant, the money at the time would have covered the entire cost of what we were hoping to achieve, but due to the rising cost of building materials we have created a multi-phase plan to seek the best options for our operation,” said MacDonald. “We are very grateful to Sen. Fowler for his work and contribution of time in making sure we were awarded this grant.”
MacDonald said programs have simply outgrown the existing structure and that clients could not participate due to physical limitations in extreme weather conditions. The new arena would allow riders the ability to attend year-round and also provide more privacy for therapeutic riding lessons while giving dignity to clients and their family.
“At IDNR we believe everyone belongs in nature, and what better way to reinforce that message than to ensure Giant City Stables can offer therapeutic horseback riding for people with disabilities and veterans year-round,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Natalie Phelps Finnie.
“I’ve seen the work Giant City Stable’s has done firsthand and will continue to advocate for funds for this type of specialized service in our area,” concluded Sen. Fowler.
Laborers’ International Union Local 773 also announced a $10,000 donation to the stable at Thursday’s press conference.