Many of the clients aren’t ambulatory and they experience the world from a wheelchair looking up. Putting them on a horse allows them a whole different view on life."
by Emily Baker
Every year the Boulder Derby party plays a huge role as a fundraiser and benefit for Front Range Hippotherapy, and this year was no exception. The title was a bit of a misnomer this year, however, as CU graduation forced the fundraiser south to Denver. But this just meant that they were fortunate enough to hold the party in the spacious and opulent West Club Lounge at Mile High.
The rain poured down in sheets as partygoers pulled up to Sports Authority Field this past Saturday for the Boulder Derby Party. Attendees dodged rivers and streams as they navigated the waterlogged concrete landscape to the stadium, but this did not deter them. In spite of the weather, the turnout was impressive and the donors generous.
Every year since its incitement, the Boulder Derby party has benefitted Front Range Hippotherapy, a Colorado 501c3 founded by Amy and Rob Meilen. Front Range is located in Longmont, CO and is truly an incredible organization. They use trained physical therapists accompanied by equine partners to provide physical, speech, and occupational therapy to people ages 2-60.
This event is crucial to Front Range’s yearly operation. The cost and expense of running their organization came in at almost $180,000 in 2015. $62,603 of this came from donations, 99% of which came from the Boulder Derby Party fundraiser. In spite of this amount, Front Range is still operating on a shoestring budget. They desperately need an indoor arena, as last year they lost 55 days of therapy due to poor weather conditions. And their human therapists are severely underpaid. Not to mention they currently have a waitlist almost equal to their total number of clients, because they lack the funding to provide help to any more people at the present time. Hopefully fundraisers like this one can help Front Range provide their amazing services to more people year round.
I had the privilege of speaking with Rob Meilen who proudly stated that Front Range was really his wife, Amy’s, dream. As a physical therapist who had worked in many different clinics, and a rider since her teenage years, Amy envisioned a practice that combined her two passions to provide the best possible care and therapy for her clients. This dream came to fruition with Front Range Hippotherapy.
Now ten years old and boasting a herd of ten horses, Front Range has touched the lives of many. Rob states of the program, “Many of the clients aren’t ambulatory and they experience the world from a wheelchair looking up. Putting them on a horse allows them a whole different view on life.”
Front Range has a team of excellent human therapists, but the equine therapists are crucial to their work. “The horses and clients pick each other,” Rob said. For as we equestrians are well aware, the bond between a horse and rider is irreplaceable, and is changing the lives of each of Amy and Rob’s clients.
The party itself was also a hit. The West Club Lounge is a cozy indoor space with numerous TVs, a bar, and a welcoming fireplace. In addition, a large projector screen, copious seating, a buffet arrangement, and space for the silent and live auctions completed the scene for this special occasion. From time to time, a flash of light burst from one corner of the ballroom where partygoers could have a professional photo taken of them in their derby finest.
For the hour preceding the big event, the hosts also held a live auction complete with an authentic and talented auctioneer. This year, two of Front Range’s families bravely told their stories that brought them to the organization.
After the auction, guests migrated outside into the heart of Sports Authority Stadium to watch Nyquist take home the Kentucky Derby prize. What better place could one ask for to get a taste of the action?
At the end of the event all the partygoers were offered a gift bag with treats from the event’s sponsors.
The live and silent auctions were indeed successful, but Front Range could always use more support. It’s not too late to donate money or time if you go to their website. Or, better yet, mark your calendars to attend the Boulder Derby Party May 6th of next year in benefit of Front Range Hippotherapy!