Partners, Professionals, Volunteers

High Hopes at 45 – launches $3 million “Share Hope” Endowment Campaign.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding of Old Lyme, Connecticut has launched the public phase of a $3 million endowment campaign, with an ambitious target of securing donations and pledges to hit their goal by March, 2020. The “Share Hope” campaign launch, which coincides with High Hopes’ 45th anniversary, will ensure the long-term sustainability of the Old Lyme facility, where each week, over 240 participants with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities benefit from the therapeutic effect of equine assisted activities and therapies.

From humble beginnings as a group of nomads with borrowed horses, offering services to local schools, High Hopes has become a leader both in providing therapeutic horsemanship and in setting worldwide standards for service, training, and education in the profession.

In September 2018, the Endowment Committee, led by long-time trustees and local businessmen Jamie Childs and Jeff Ridgway, launched the quiet phase of this ambitious campaign. Speaking during the launch, Jeff Ridgway, joint Endowment Chair, commented that: “Participants and their families face many hardships, not the least of which is financial.” Through careful stewardship of an existing small endowment – in true Yankee fashion – and the unwavering community support of our fundraising events, High Hopes has been able to underwrite 65% of every service it provides consistently. “But increases in fixed cost alongside increased demand for activities from our most underserved communities, now means that we must increase our small endowment fund if we are to be able to continue to provide services to all, regardless of their ability to pay,” reflected Co-Chair Jamie Childs. “As well as subsidized services, nearly 50% of our participants need additional financial aid.”

By Saturday’s launch event, the total raised from this “family” phase exceeded $2.1 million; “we are well on our way to reaching the target,” said Development Director Sara Qua, “but the final stretch is always the hardest.” A healthy endowment fund will not take away the need for annual fundraising. It will, however,  allow us to draw on a small percentage of the income from the endowment and this increased source of revenue will provide a buffer between the variable nature of donations and the inevitable annual increases in fixed costs, such as feed for the herd and liability insurance for the organization.

“You have the chance to give a gift that will touch the lives of thousands of individuals in your community now, and for years to come,” said Executive Director, Kitty Stalsburg. “Many people do not realize just how many different types of people and organizations we serve each week.” High Hopes provides riding, carriage driving, unmounted equine learning programs, vocational training, and unified summer camps; to children and adults, veterans living with PTSD, the children of active service personnel, teens with anxiety, youth-at-risk, and victims of domestic abuse.

This milestone coincided with the running of the 145th Kentucky Derby, and the celebratory connection was too much to resist for High Hopes’ development team. So, with the very generous support of Event Sponsors Guilford Savings Bank, in partnership with Grand Wine & Spirits, Allan S. Goodman Distributors, Brown-Forman, and Kentucky Derby Sponsors Woodford Reserve, the launch took place in the High Hopes’ indoor arena. The evening featured a demonstration by one of our participants, with an impromptu speech by her fourth-grade brother, describing the impact horses have had on his sister and family. There followed Kentucky Derby-themed cocktails and appetizers by the David Alan Hospitality Group, Best Hat and Most Snappy Dresser competitions. Guests were encouraged to support the endowment by “placing their bets on High Hopes to Win,” before settling down to watch the running of the Derby live, through the generosity of Doug Jastremski and his team from Power Posse Productions.

If you would like more information about the different ways you can donate to the “Share Hope” Endowment Campaign, please visit

or contact Sara Qua, Development Director, 860.434.1974 or


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