Has it really been two years since starting the Tom Turner Project?

Originally, this idea had come to mind on Christmas Day, 2021. I simply wanted to raise money to provide a horse for Alatheia Therapeutic Riding Center.

I found that this organization is one my dad would have loved In fact, many of his students to this day are participants and have been since before 2016.

Thanks to you, I exceeded my goal AND introduced Johann to the herd in May. He needed me, and I needed him.

Most importantly, he has been so brave in building trust with the other horses and has turned out to be the gentle giant in the Therapy Program.

I did not intend then to send out yearly support letters, but saw it as something that would raise the funds for a horse, get the horse, thank the donors and all would be good. But then, I met Seth….

If you knew my dad, you would know how much his Uncle Jerry and nephew, John-O meant to him. It wasn’t because they had Down Syndrome but likely because he didn’t care if they came with a little extra.

He looked at them as equals. Last summer a man named Seth, who also has Down Syndrome, showed up at Alatheia for a visit and stole my heart. The idea of continuing my dad’s legacy took off. Meeting Seth reminded me that perhaps one of my callings was to continue what my dad had started years ago and the Legacy Barn Buddy Program was born.

This community inclusion and life skills program for young adults (ages 21 and older) living with developmental disabilities provides meaningful opportunities to give back to the communities that have supported them.

Barn Buddies work on developing life skills such as following directions, self-control, communication, punctuality, and kindness.

They also learn to groom, muck stalls, lead horses to and from their pastures and stalls, while gaining a knowledge of barn life routines. Each Barn Buddy is assigned work centered around their individual interests and abilities and Alatheia’s needs, providing opportunities to work independently and safely.

I am extremely proud to have started The Legacy Barn Buddies Program and could not do it without community support. My goal for 2023 is to raise $35,000 for Barn Buddies. These funds would buy one more horse for the Alatheia herd, cover the costs of the program and provide funds to pay these hard workers an hourly wage. For most this would be their first real job!

Are you a business owner looking to sponsor a team of hard-working individuals? Or maybe you would like to pledge a yearly donation. I would be honored to meet with you, share my story, share more about The Legacy Barn Buddies and answer any questions you may have.

Feel Free to contact me via phone or email! I would love to connect with you! For those who have already donated, thank YOU! This is just the beginning of continuing The Legacy of Tom Turner.

Laura Turner is the daughter of the late Tom Turner, longtime educator and coach in the Quincy Valley. She may be reached at laurat@alatheiaridingcenter.com.