Impactful donation bolsters equine-assisted grief counseling center in Maryville, Tennessee
Dr. Eric W. Barton, president and CEO of LexLin Gypsy Ranch, recently presented an impactful $850,000 donation to Blount County-based Mane Support, enabling a substantial expansion of the nonprofit organization’s equine-assisted grief counseling services.
Barton’s donation includes 14 Gypsy Vanner horses from LexLin Gypsy Ranch, fencing and equipment. Ten of the 14 horses will be sold to sustain and expand Mane Support’s equine-assisted programs.
The donation also includes “Leading by the Reins,” a leadership development program currently operating at Peak Technical Institute where Barton is president and CEO. Mane Support will inherit the name and curriculum to continue the program in Blount County.
“Leading by the Reins” will be a for-profit program, and its income will fund ongoing programs at Mane Support.
“This gift from Eric Barton goes far beyond its monetary value,” Mane Support CEO and Founder Kimberly Henry said. “It allows us to add more staff, broaden our reach and serve more people who are facing the difficulties of grief and loss. It’s impossible for me to fully express how meaningful and impactful this gift is, how broadly it reaches and how deeply we appreciate Eric’s generosity.”
Mane Support, the only freestanding grief-counseling center in the state of Tennessee, offers a number of equine-assisted programs to youth, teens and adults. Programs include individual counseling for grief, loss and trauma for children and adults; a group for widows; an in-school grief program; a group designed to address the self-esteem, communication and coping skills of youth and teens who have experienced loss-associated trauma; and a program designed to address individual, team and family needs for military and first responders.
“Donating these Gypsy Vanners to Mane Support is the right thing to do,” said Barton, who also is the founder, president and CEO of Maryville-based Vanquish Worldwide. “I am glad to help all of Mane Support’s programs, but I particularly appreciate the opportunity to support Horses Helping Heroes, a program designed for military, first responders and their families. As a veteran, I am proud to be in a position to support those who do so much for our country.”
Described as powerful yet gentle animal, the Gypsy Vanner is the result of hundreds of years of selective breeding by Gypsies who sought an animal with the strength to pull a wagon all day, the ability to subsist on meager grazing and a calm temperament. In addition to possessing these traits, Gypsy Vanners are stunningly beautiful animals.
LexLin Gypsy Ranch, the largest Gypsy Vanner ranch in the United States, has donated 85 horses with a total value of over $1.1 million to Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.)-accredited equine therapy centers across the country through its philanthropic program, Gypsy Gift.