Strides to Success, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals through the field of equine assisted activities, was awarded a $10,300 grant from the David H. Kiebach Smile Fund, a fund of the Hendricks County Community Foundation (HCCF), to help with the everyday needs of the participants and program funding.

Strides to Success takes place in a 10,000 square foot state-of-the art facility on a 33-acre farm in Hendricks County. Strides has been teaching life skills to at-risk and special needs children for the last 13 years, helping them improve their personal relationships and increase achievement in school. The breadth of their services, the skill of their staff, and the quality of their horse partners allows them to work with a variety of individuals and groups that are looking to promote healing and growth. This is done in their onsite classrooms, therapy offices, heated indoor/outdoor arenas, horse playground and various pastures.

Strides to Success helps people of all ages with different life stories, strengths, and needs for healing or personal growth. This includes veterans who struggle with PTSD, adolescents and adults who have suffered trauma or abuse, children with behavior challenges, and organizations that seek staff development through leadership and team building training. One veteran who participated in these activities said, “Thanks to the wonderful staff and horses at Strides, I was able to find my way back to a new normal. My wife, my children, and I are so grateful to the Strides program for helping us through the reunification process.” Another Strides program participant, an at-risk student, discovered how to control his stress and anxiety through partnership with the horses. He commented on this, “I know it sounds crazy that you can learn from horses, but it is true!” A community leader that participated in the programs at Strides also learned about different leadership styles and how they can be applied to maximize her team’s effectiveness.

This grant from the David H. Kiebach Smile Fund will be used to meet various general operation needs. Strides for Success Executive Director Debbie Anderson commented on this, “This wonderful grant will help to support many individuals that come to Strides looking for help in dealing with life’s challenges. Whether a child is finding their way back from a traumatic experience or an adult is going through a life crisis, Strides will be able to help them discover their unique solutions with the help of this grant. It will help us to increase our capacity by 137 sessions for those participants in need.”

The David H. Kiebach Smile Fund is a permanent fund at HCCF that was established in 2008 by David’s wife and children after his sudden death the year before. This fund has donated over $110,000 to help those in need in Hendricks County. The fund was named after David and his family added “smile” to the name because David always had a ready smile for everyone he met. Through funds like David’s, the Community Foundation helps donors match their passions with community needs. HCCF President and CEO William Rhodehamel expressed the importance of permanent funds, “Funds like David’s help families who love Hendricks County to leave a legacy that will make a difference in our community for many generations to come.