spotlight on: chum therapeutic riding!

Spotlight On
CHUM Therapeutic Riding
2180 E Dexter Trail, Dansville
Bonnie DePue

Children and Horses United in Movement (CHUM) has been in operation for 21 years.  Bonnie DePue, a licensed Occupational Therapist, is the founder and director of the program which can provide hippotherapy services, therapeutic riding, sport and recreational riding, internships, volunteer opportunities, and job coaching to upwards of 150 students a week on average.  Some participants come from a couple of hours away to to benefit from the services CHUM has to offer.  Bonnie says they can enroll people from 14 months of age to senior citizens.  Many students have brain injuries, or physical or developmental issues that make time with or on a horse a source of healing or learning, or just plain fun and relaxation. As the lead instructor, Bonnie designs programming and coordinates the volunteers, including working closely with Michigan Youth Challenge Academy students.  Volunteers often have opportunities to work on leadership and social skills as well as riding and caring for the horses.
The usual CHUM fundraisers were cancelled this year due to Covid restrictions.  Their horse show, horse camp and Run for CHUM race had to be postponed, hopefully to be back in 2021.  CHUM continues to provide modified services as they are allowed, and socially distant horse hugging.  Melissa Caulk says that “When everything else has been taken away from our kids, you can still hug a horse!  It’s a way to find peace and joy when the world feels out of control.”  Melissa and her son Troy John (11) are very fond of their CHUM family, and are excited about the fundraising efforts that are happening in December to support operations. The 2020 CHUM Derby is happening now through Dec. 4, and is an opportunity to make a donation in the name of one of the CHUM horses.  The winner of the Derby will be the horse with the most donations, and will be announced on Dec. 11.  Troy John has made a special video in support of his favorite horse, offering to get a pie in the face for every $25 donation that is made in Jack’s name.  Troy John and Jack have developed a special bond over the last year as they have worked together to teach Troy John to ride.  You can watch his video by visiting the CHUM Therapeutic Riding Facebook page.  You can make donations and get updates about which horses are in the lead by visiting the Facebook page or and clicking on Derby. Support Jack!
The Derby winner will be announced during the Christmas Open House Fundraiser on Dec. 11, which will be held at CHUM in the indoor arena from 9am to 9pm.  This socially distant fundraiser will offer a variety of stations and activities, including an escape room inspired “Christmas Mystery in the Stalls” and an opportunity for a socially distant Santa photo, using an old fashioned doctors buggy.  This is a terrific chance to raise some funds, see the facilities, meet some horses and some amazing people, and learn more about what CHUM has to offer.  What a wonderful resource to have in our area! Troy John says, “Tell everyone to come out!  It’s the most amazing place!!”

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