Clara Delaney, an 18-year-old high school senior, has volunteered with Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship since the day that it began in February 2001. Since then, she has attended every session, whether they have been in the evenings or on weekends. This unique program, which provides disabled individuals the opportunity to ride horses, has relied on Clara’s experienced hands. She volunteers as a side walker with the riders, all of whom have a disability, to make sure that they are safe in their saddles.
Clara receives special education services and her single mother has battled cancer for the past several years. Before volunteering with the program, she had never even ridden a horse. Clara has now overcome all of these challenges and accomplished well beyond her desired results.
In the beginning of the program, it was desperate for volunteers. Since Clara has been so dependable she knows all of the riders very well and trains new volunteers about the individual strengths and needs of each rider. Clara has made a positive difference in the lives of more than 10 children because it is so important for the riders to have a stable volunteer who works with them week after week. This allows her to recognize improvements or changes of any kind concerning the riders and thus adjust the level of support provided to facilitate continued growth. Clara also offers many suggestions within the program and is always quick to help with anything.
Clara is a special young woman and although she has had to face many challenges already in her life, she cares more about others before caring for herself. She is willing to give large amounts of her time and energy and expects nothing in return. Many young people with Clara’s background would have turned to drugs, alcohol or other dangerous behaviors, but Clara has chosen to help others.