Charity plans mud run

Published 9:24 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A local charity that pairs nature and animals to bring healing to disabled veterans and their families will hold its first mud run fundraiser next weekend.

Sonya Allen, whose husband is a disabled veteran, started the program about two years ago when someone suggested she could do equine therapy at her farm, Stargazer Stables, where she already was conducting a horse and art camp for children.

“It sort of evolved as an activity,” she said. “We’re just a big military community, and there’s a lot of adults that need some help.”

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Allen said she believes the program has helped those who have participated.

“They weren’t getting the treatment that they needed,” she said. “A lot of them needed to de-stress and remember their values and go back and relax a little bit. They seem to help the men and the women a lot.”

“This is a big community for veterans, and there’s not a lot going on,” Allen added. “Anything we can do to help them reintegrate to society is good.”

Robert Whichard is a disabled veteran who volunteers at Stargazer Stables. He said it has been good for him.

“Being able to get out there and clear my head and be with animals, it does wonders for me,” he said. “This is better than any pill the VA or the military ever gave me.”

Whichard was medically retired in 2004 after 13 years with the Coast Guard and Navy. He was deployed multiple times to Europe and the Middle East with the Navy. He then worked seven years as a civilian for the Department of Defense.

“I look forward to being able to help the other vets out here,” Whichard said. “This has been the best therapy. It calms the mind. It’s brought me inner Zen again. I’ve found a lot of peace out here with the animals.”

Next Saturday’s mud run will feature obstacles families can conquer together, such as big hills of mud, hay bales to climb over and “a big, giant, adult-sized slip and slide,” Allen said.

The fundraiser will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 29 at 8544 New Road. In addition to the mud run, it will feature a petting zoo, pony rides, vendors, raffles and music.

The cost is $40 for those 12 and up and $20 for ages 9 to 11. Children under 9 are free. Visitors can pay on site.

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