"I have discovered that getting involved in something that helps other children gives me a lot of fulfillment and happiness."
Public accountant and ranch owner Armando Torres López de Lara, 64, of Torreón, Coahuila, México, overcame his depression over his son's death by volunteering his horses for physical therapy of poor and severely disabled children.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Armando: I am President of the Association for Horseback Riders in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. I own a ranch outside Torreón, which is in Coahuila. My daughter-in-law is a doctor and has worked for some time with children with major disabilities. We have started doing equine therapy with these children in order to help them use their muscles and begin to gain physical strength and coordination.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Armando: Centro de Hipo Terapia San Pedro, Torreón, Coahuila, México.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Armando: My daughter-in-law meets economically disadvantaged children with disabilities in the hospital in which she works. She has known for some time that equine therapy would be helpful to these children and would help their parents give their children some kind of recreation that they will never be able to afford. So, we developed a program in which she and her team voluntarily go to my ranch each Sunday to work with about 30 children of various ages. She mounts one of the horses and, at the same time, holds a child or lays a child on the horse, and the team surrounds the horse to help work with the child. It takes about five people to work with each child at one time to protect the child from falls, etc. We are starting to see remarkable results.
What inspired you to get involved?
Armando: I lost my 18-year-old son a few years ago. His death sent me through a wave of depression. I have discovered that getting involved in something that helps other children gives me a lot of fulfillment and happiness.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Armando: My daughter-in-law asked me to provide horses and time at the ranch for the children. I was happy to do so.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Armando: I have actually seen children start to use muscles that seemingly were dead. Many now can raise their heads when once they would just fall forward. I have seen them start to have some control with other muscles and have seen their faces light up with happiness.
What was the biggest surprise?
Armando: I could not believe the incredible progress that has been made with the children in terms of their physical and emotional health. It has brought so much joy to the children and their parents.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Armando: I would say that if one has the passion to donate time and energy, that they should do it.
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