Eau Claire (WQOW)- Ask any non-profit and you'll often find volunteers are at the heart of the organization. Volunteers like Karen Supple.
As Trinity Equestrian Center in Eau Claire celebrates its 10th year, owner Toni Mattson reflects back on what it's taken to get here. "We have a fabulous therapy team but we have an enormous dedicated beyond words team of volunteers who come alongside of us and who would literally walk through fire for us and it makes me cry," says Toni.
The center operates with a core group of about a dozen volunteers, all led by volunteer coordinator Karen Supple. "I retired in 2002 and I needed something to fill the days and iI've always loved horses," reflects Karen.
The Equestrian center touches hundreds of people each year, through programs designed to help those undergoing physical therapy, veterans struggling with PTSD and adults and children dealing with disabilities.
"The walking gait of a horse really stimulates not only the muscles and causes balance and spatial awareness, but it literally exercises the neurons in the brain that have some way have been damaged or diseased," explains Toni. "We often times have autistic kids who've never even tried to speak before and you put them on horseback or you put them in the presence of the horse and miraculously they start speaking. The parents come unglued because for maybe 8 or 9 years, they've never tried."
Karen also spends time volunteering at the Bolton Refuge House, a rescue shelter for women. "The reward I get is a warm spot because I'm giving back," explains Karen.
"She will do anything that she can for us and for what we do out here," gushes Toni. " (Her work at) the Bolton House, oh my gosh that's not an exception, that is absolutely the fiber of her being it's who she is."