This weekend, Santa’s reindeer will be making a special visit to On Eagles’ Wings Therapeutic Horsemanship Center located in Fairmont, West Virginia. The nonprofit organization, in collaboration with Waynesburg University, will host its first annual “Friends of Rudolph” Holiday Season Open House on Sunday, Dec. 5, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The stables of On Eagles’ Wings will incorporate the sights and sounds of the season. The barn will be decorated for the season, and the horses will temporarily be renamed as Santa’s reindeer. Holiday music will also be provided by Waynesburg University’s Lamplighters Choir.
“I would say our event has a three part objective,” said Casey Conaway, director of development for On Eagles’ Wings. “One would be the awareness piece, two would be an opportunity for families to be out and enjoy the holiday season and three would be to celebrate comradery and fellowship among our volunteers.”
According to Conaway, the mission of On Eagles’ Wings is to provide equine activities and therapies for individuals with disabilities. This event will not only raise awareness for the services of On Eagles’ Wings, but it will also raise funds to go towards the cost of riding lessons.
“Most of our general fund goes toward riders’ scholarships,” Conaway said. “The cost of therapeutic riding or equine assisted learning is about $130 an hour, we only ask our families to pay $30, if they could. Essentially, we’re fundraising 75% of our operating cost all of the time.”
Without donations as well as volunteers, Conaway emphasized that the services of On Eagles’ Wings would not be possible.
“We’re just so grateful for people who would give their time, talent and treasure to On Eagles’ Wings,” she said.
Conaway is especially grateful for On Eagles’ Wings’ partnership with Waynesburg University for their first annual holiday season open house.
“If it was not for the partnership between On Eagles’ Wings and Waynesburg, we would not be able to pull this off,” Conaway said.
Waynesburg University not only played an important role in the planning of the event, but will also be assisting at the event itself.
“Not only was our office [Center for Service Leadership] involved with bringing this idea to life, but we have many student volunteers who are preparing materials and dedicating their time to decorate the day before the event,” said Angelica Good, graduate assistant for the Center for Service Leadership office. “In addition, they are looking forward to serving the community during the event itself and assisting with cleanup.”
Conaway graduated from Waynesburg University in 2001 and was actively involved in service leadership as a Bonner Scholar. Her connection to Waynesburg made it the perfect partner to execute her idea.
“It’s super special and personal to me to have my professional career to be able to partner with Waynesburg University. That’s kind of a full circle moment,” she said.
Conaway wasn’t the only one excited about the partnership. Good said the Center for Service Leadership was excited to bring more service opportunities to students and community members.
“Casey mentioned that she had this idea for a while but needed the hands and encouragement to make it a reality,” Good said. “Our office loved her passion for On Eagles’ Wings and believed in the thoughts she shared with us.”
Both parties hope their relationship as well as this event continues to grow in the future.
“We recognize how truly blessed we are as we reflect on how much closer we have become with this organization this season,” Good said. “We hope to grow this relationship further and extend opportunities to the community in the future.”