OVer the past five months Bay of Plenty Times has celebrated the inspirational stories of the riders, volunteers and staff at Tauranga Riding for the Disabled Equestrian Therapy Centre.
This week at the picturesque Tauranga RDA site, overlooking Tauranga Harbour, the stable is being torn down in preparation for earthworks on the long-awaited all-weather indoor arena to begin next week.
The $750,000 building project, on the existing 15-acre site in Ngapeke Rd, Welcome Bay is set to be completed by Christmas.
Leading up to this milestone, Tauranga RDA chief executive Kat MacMillan said the weekly stories exploring the benefit and joy equestrian therapy brings to the lives of disabled riders and satisfaction gained by those who work and volunteer at the centre had been amazing in lifting the profile and level of understanding about RDA in the Western Bay community.
She had received scores of positive feedback each week both from within the organisation and the Bay of Plenty in general. "They didn't realise exactly what goes on there and quite how inspiring it is, what these riders achieve and what the volunteers dedicate to the community.
"It's (the articles) actually brought in new volunteers, new riders and interest from people wanting to support us in all sorts of ways, not just financially."
The riders have also benefited too, Mrs MacMillan said.
"It's actually been really, really special for them to be featured in the paper. It's given them the limelight when for most of their lives they may have been in the shadows of other children."
Schools had used the articles as a way of celebrating riders' achievements at RDA and raising awareness about disabilities and the challenges they present, amongst their classmates.
Mrs MacMillan said Tauranga RDA was expected to open for therapy sessions again towards the end of next month and anyone wishing to volunteer could contact Tauranga RDA following the re-opening.
The remainder of the funds needed for the indoor arena are expected to be raised over the next five months through pledges and other fundraising efforts.
To make a donation to the Tauranga Riding for the Disabled Arena Charitable Trust, contact Katharine Birks on (07) 544 1899.
A new weekly series on the Community News page of your Bay of Plenty Times will begin next Wednesday.