Local athletes competing in the equestrian Special Olympics are getting a leg-up on the competition after a local Boy Scout built and donated competition-grade equipment for use at the Stable-Spirit horse ranch in Fannett.
Joseph Black, 18, of Troop 239 in Fannett, built a custom ramp and gates for the local Special Olympians for use in trail-riding competitions and events all over Texas. By providing a competition-grade atmosphere at the ranch, Black said the athletes will have a much better chance of bringing home the gold.
“Before we gave them the ramp, all they had was a board,” he said. “So this gives them an advantage.”
Executive director of Stable-Spirit Katie Durio said her athletes will benefit greatly from the addition, many of whom suffer from down syndrome and other disorders.
“We work with athletes who have intellectual disabilities. Usually autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy,” she said. “We actually teach them to ride. Three of us are Special Olympics equestrian coaches.”
She said the ranch’s new universal, competition-grade atmosphere will help her athletes greatly.
“For the last two years, we’ve had just a piece of plywood for our bridge. And we used barrels for the gates,” she said.
After months of planning, Black began fundraising for the project, raising more than $1,000 for the new additions. But as he prepared to spend the money on materials, Black was surprised to find word of his project had spread and all materials would be donated by local businesses.
With more than $1,000 sitting unused, Black said he didn’t hesitate to give it all away.
“We took all the money that was donated and gave it to Stable-Spirit,” he said.
The new Eagle Scout was sure to thank his family and friends who helped him along the way, adding he owes a lifetime of thanks to the Boy Scouts of America.
“Boy Scouts, beyond family and church, has been the biggest inspiration in life to me,” he said. “The scout motto spells it out what a scout should do. Do a good turn daily and be prepared. It helps to remember those things.”
The graduate of Hamshire Fannett High School said he’s still contemplating what to do during college.
“In five years, I’ll probably be graduated from college. I see myself having a good job and continuing to do good for others. I’ve had ideas,” he said, adding that he’s looking at a possible career in law.
He said he might study “pre-law and a minor in business because I used to want to be a judge. I love to study the Constitution.”
Black said he’s proud of his Eagle Scout project and encourages locals to see his handy work at Stable-Spirit.
“It’s a great place out there,” he said. “They really do great things for the kids who participate.”
Clay Thorp can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 225, or by e-mail at clay [at] theexaminer [dot] com.