Project R.I.D.E. Needs Volunteers to Continue Serving the Sacramento Region

ELK GROVE -- Project R.I.D.E., a local organization that helps people with disabilities, is looking to expand but they need the community's help.

"It's basically a type of physical therapy except while having fun and not realizing that it's happening," explained Advanced Riding Instructor Lauren Hieb.

Tucked away in a residential neighborhood in Elk Grove, Project R.I.D.E helps people with disabilities improve their motor functions and social skills through horseback riding.

"If they have a mental or physical challenge just, when you add a horse into the picture, they're more cooperative, it's more fun for them, and they just, they love it," Hieb said.

Instructors say riding horses helps strengthen core muscles but the emotional response they see from their students is nothing short of miraculous.

"We've had riders come where they haven't been able to speak at all, speak their first words with us because they want the horse to be able to walk," Hieb explained. "We've also had riders not be able to walk that are now taking their first steps. There's just a connection between people and horses and you can definitely see that with the riders."

Since the organization opened nearly 40 years ago, they've served hundreds of adults and children in the Sacramento region and they still have a long wait list.

"Really the thing that limits us in our capacity is volunteer support. It takes a team of three people for every single student that we ride," Community Outreach Manager Marisa Desalles said.

The organization is looking to expand but in order to do so, they need more volunteers.

"If our volunteers don't show up, our program doesn't happen," Desalles explained.

The people who donate their time to Project R.I.D.E. say it's not just therapeutic for the clients they help, it's life-changing for the volunteers too.

"The people are kind. The children are trusting. There's something magic happening back here tucked away in a little slice of heaven in the middle of Elk Grove," Desalles said.

Project R.I.D.E. is holding a Craft Fair Saturday, October 13, and all of the proceeds will go toward their expansion.