Amidst glorious sunshine, the band played, the feast was fantastic, and the smiles were endless, as the High Hopes family gathered to honor participants and volunteers who have gone “above and beyond” this year.

“Our Annual Celebration is a great opportunity to share everything that is High Hopes. It gives us a chance to  recognize a few individuals each year, within a whole family of extraordinary people.” said Kitty Stalsburg, Executive Director. “We would like to give a particular shout-out to Chester’s BBQ for supporting us with their wonderful food, and to recognize Plywood Cowboy for generously donating their music; a band who each have very strong connections with High Hopes.”

See all the photographs on Flickr
All photographs credit: Cole Sargent and copyright High Hopes TR.


1000 hour volunteers:

Volunteers are the lifeblood of High Hopes and we wanted to take a moment to recognize some very special volunteers; those that have each donated over 1000 hours of their time to our mission.Annie Bolduc, Suzie Bolduc, Cyndie Doocy, Steve Mazeau, Donna Perry, Cole Sargent, Karen Siemon, Judith Cohen and Rob Shiely.

Paul Burkarth Rider of the Year Award:

Paul Burkarth Rider of the Year AwardThis award was established in memory of Paul Burkarth in 1985 and is presented annually to the rider who has shown significant progress during the past year.

Awarded to: Peter Castelli of Madison. 
Peter has been a participant for over 26 years, most recently in the carriage driving program.
Peter has made continual progress in independent driving, and has a special bond with his instructors and volunteers.


Patrick Moreno Sportsmanship Award:

This award was established in memory of Patrick Moreno in 1993 by Sis Gould. When Patrick was no longer able to ride, Sis initiated carriage driving at High Hopes, specifically for Patrick, by importing a carriage from England which could accommodate his wheelchair. This annual award is given to the rider who shows outstanding sportsmanship, consideration of others, and encouragement to his or her fellow riders, exemplifying Patrick’s way of helping others, never giving in to adversity.

Awarded to: Kristin Steele of Essex.

Kristen has been riding since 2005 (12 years).

Kristin participates with her school group from John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River, part of the Region 4 School system, which has a long history of program collaboration with High Hopes.

Kristen is always smiling and laughing and is fully engaged with all of our volunteers and her peers.

Nancy Cash Program Volunteer of the Year:

Awarded to a person who, like Nancy, is dedicated and dependable, always willing to “go the extra mile” and willing to make her volunteerism at High Hopes a priority in her life.  This award, established in 2006, is dedicated to Nancy, honoring another volunteer who shares her positive attitude and her unwavering commitment to helping our riders achieve their personal best.

Awarded to: Kathy DiLullo of East Lyme,  has been a volunteer since 2013. Kathy has over 800 hours of volunteering in many roles, including side-walker, leader, barn and in the office.

She is a versatile volunteer who is always excited to learn new roles. In additional to being a dedicated, reliable volunteer, Kathy exemplifies High Hopes values, especially in her positive, welcoming presence to all.

Sally Aubrey Award:

In 1998, Stever Aubrey, established this award in honor of Sally his wife. In doing so, he donated his artisan’s work of a remarkable bronze sculpture of a mare and foal that is displayed in the High Hopes entry way. This award is given to someone selected by the board and staff who exemplifies the true spirit of High Hopes through commitment, dedication and compassion.

Awarded to: Sarah Hill Canning of Stonington
Sarah and her husband Peter live in Stonington, with their two daughters, Kate and Martha. She has volunteered at High Hopes since 2003 – most recently in the carriage driving program. She served on the Board for 10 years from 2007-16 and was scribe for the Board for several years. She is a past Chair of the Volunteer Committee, and has served tirelessly on the June Benefit “Symphony”, Governance and Development Committees. It is Sarah’s depth of commitment, and her embodiment of the Spirit of High Hopes, which make her this year’s recipient.


Barn Volunteer of the Year:

Awarded to: Cyndie Doocy of Colchester.
Cyndie has been a steady constant at High Hopes for almost a decade. She is  a level 3 horse handler and a driving header, so is  real asset at all levels of program.

But it is for her work in the Barn that she was nominated for this award. She has been a steady and reliable feeder on Friday mornings as well as helping out in program as a Side-walker and picking up substitute spots when available.

Cyndie is very reliable and consistent, and arrives every week ready to feed and help out with the herd. She is a self-starter and likes to get the job done … and done well!”

Office Volunteer of the Year:

Awarded to: Sandie Woodford of Old Saybrook
Sandie’s super warm, welcoming personality is representative of all of our values. “As we celebrate Sandie’s year anniversary with High Hopes, we would like to recognize the impact that she has had on High Hopes in that time.” Sandie has been working at the front desk for the past year, getting to know participants, helping out with office tasks and foremost being a positive and happy front desk volunteer to greet participants, families and guests. Sandie is memorable because of her kindness and ability to remember the smallest things with each visitor, participant and staff member. When Sandie is not here, many of the regular participants ask about her, wondering where she is because she works to form connections with each individual. Sandie is also more than happy to share her daughter Abbie with us, driving her here when needed and picking up extra shifts at the front desk when needed. “She has truly been an asset to have here at High Hopes and we look forward to her continued volunteerism.”

Special Award:

Awarded to: Joanne Clark of Madison.
The Program Team at High Hopes also gave a very special award to Joanne Clark.
When Program needed to update their antiquated database, the task was daunting, but necessary to reflect the growing range of services and numbers of participants and volunteers here at High Hopes. Long time volunteer Joanne Clark “jumped straight in.” As well as volunteering as a side-walker and leader, this year she has volunteered a huge number of hours to re-organizing the High Hopes database. This work has improved accuracy and efficiency for everyone!


Davison Youth Volunteer of the Year:

In honor of Jane Davison, who passed in 2016, this award recognizes a young volunteer who demonstrates the true volunteer spirit.

Awarded to: Olivia DeCapua, of Old Saybrook.
Olivia has grown into her volunteer role after starting at young age. She is bright and mature and a strong horsewoman.

“Not only is Olivia a reliable, welcome face on her scheduled volunteer shifts, she often substitutes for volunteers unable to make their slot. Olivia makes a real connection with each horse and rider she works with.”





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