SARI Therapeutic Riding
Parents faced with the challenge of caring for a child with a physical, cognitive, social or emotional disability know all too well the engulfing feelings of helplessness and inadequacy that often threaten family life. Without help and support, the task they face can be frustrating and overwhelmingly lonely.
For forty-seven years—more than half her life–Jeanne Greenberg has worked to turn a burden into a blessing, giving both help and hope to families who, in her words, "have been blessed with special-needs children."
When her daughter Sari was born with Down’s syndrome in 1959, there were few facilities for, what were then called, "handicapped" children, so when the Greenberg family lost their beloved Sari when she was only fifteen, Jeanne knew that the rest of her own life would be devoted to helping families like hers. Jeanne, her husband and their four other children wanted a special way to honor Sari. It took a few years to give shape and substance to that desire, but in 1978 the nonprofit organization SARI (Special Ability Riding Institute, now known as SARI Therapeutic Riding) was set up in Sari’s memory. The idea for it had come from Sari’s enjoyment of riding lessons with one of her siblings.
SARI would be a remarkable accomplishment by any measure, but Jeanne, now eighty-four, remains a dedicated board member and fund-raiser. For Jeanne, the work is energizing—and endlessly rewarding. She is buoyed by the children’s achievements and the miracles that occasionally occur. One child whose parents were told he would never walk is now walking, after just two years at SARI. And a former student, wheelchair-bound and now in his thirties, told Jeanne he has never forgotten the thrill, when first placed on a horse, of being able to look down at people instead of always seeing them looking down at him. Memories of Sari, and of children like these, Jeanne says, have enriched her life beyond measure.