COLORADO SPRINGS — KOAA5 wants to celebrate the unsung heroes who selflessly serve those in need. Let us know about amazing people making a difference in our community every day by nominating them for the Jefferson Awards. The prestigious nationwide program recognizes people making extraordinary efforts to make their neighborhoods better through service.
KOAA5 has the honor of presenting this award to people in Southern Colorado and we need your help to discover these gems in our communities.
Our April winner, the first winner as part of this efforts, runs a local therapeutic riding center helping people with special needs, one horse back ride at a time.
Nancy Harrison, the CEO of Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center, started the non-profit in 2008. She said it was always a dream of hers after she worked with special needs kids and adults before.
Harrison works mostly with children who have down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, or any kind of special need. The stables, located at 3254 Paseo Drive, provide equine therapy for more than 150 riders.
"Horses are very loving animals, they don't judge, they don't care what you're disability is, they're here to help," said Harrison. "Especially this last year, a lot of kids were working with anxiety because they haven't been able to go to school," said Harrison.
Harrison recalls the time when she knew she wanted to make a difference. She was working with a little boy who had down syndrome and rode a horse named 'Pal.'
"He went over to the pin and yelled 'Pal' and Pal picked his head up and came running over to him," said Harrison. "At that point, I knew what the impact of horses and kids with special needs were."
Because of her willingness to lend a helping hoof, News5 is presenting Harrison with the April 2021 Jefferson Award. This is the first award given as part of the local effort in highlighting this unsung heroes.
News5 also spoke to C.J. Clark, whose daughter, Avery, has been riding horses at the center for ten years. Clark expressed nothing but gratitude toward Harrison when we told her about Harrison winning the award.
"Nancy has the most warm and inviting demeanor, it was really helpful in getting Avery to open up and feel comfortable," said Clark. "There's just a ton of potential in all these kids, and putting them in this situation, you really get to see what they can do and what they're capable of."
Riders at the center are anywhere from two years old to 70 years old. Many have been practicing at the center for years, some even a decade. Half-hour private practices are available for the riders.
For more information about the Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center, click here.
ORIGINS OF THE JEFFERSON AWARDS
Started by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1972, The Jefferson Awards have honored the incredible spirit and unique accomplishments of over 63,000 national and local heroes.
Every Jefferson Award honoree, from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Congressman John Lewis, to former Buffalo Bill Fred Jackson has inspired through their selfless public service.
Together, we will bring much-needed attention to those Coloradans who generate the ripples of good in our community.