On Saturday, Nov. 20, 2016, a ground breaking ceremony was held for a new barn facility in DeFuniak Springs. Not your typical barn by any means, as it will be the future home for the very special horses of Grace Rides.
The new barn construction is partly made possible by a $107,666 donation from Impact 100 of Northwest Florida, Inc. The mission of Impact 100 is to financially support non-profit organizations in Northwest Florida by empowering women as philanthropists and leaders, by bridging the geographic areas of our region, and by leveraging the talents of women to be a positive force for good in our communities.
Sherry Hall and Grace Rides are most deserving of the award. As director of Grace Rides, Sherry makes miracles happen five days a week. Grace Rides is a non-profit faith based organization formed in 2009. The facility provides safe, effective equine therapy and horsemanship training for students of all ages with emotional, physical, cognitive and developmental challenges.
Currently, Grace Rides operates on a small 2-acre ranch in Niceville. In 2013, Grace Rides Board members started dreaming bigger. It was time to accommodate new programs and there was a growing waiting list of families needing services.
“Our growth is absolutely limited by our current physical facilities. From limited safe parking to a variety of accessibility issues, we have just outgrown our beloved barn on Hickory Street,” said Sherry Hall.
The search for a new facility that would serve the dream began. In 2015 a grass-covered, hilltop site was purchased by Steve and Sherry Hall for potential future use by the program.
The building and fundraising teams went to work on the planning required to turn the dream of a fully accessible equine therapy barn facility on this new hill into reality. The fundraising team scored a huge blessing in 2016 with the Impact 100 donation.
The building team secured another huge blessing in assembling a group of area professionals who developed the building plans for both the facility and related site plan through their generous donations.
Geoff Chick & Associates – Architectural Design
Devcon Services Group – Contractor/Construction Management
JP Engineering – Civil Engineering and Permit Management
Seaside Engineering & Surveying – Surveying
Vic Anderson – Project Design and Management
NOVA – Geotechnical Services
Sherry Hall makes sure that everyone understands that this is just the beginning of the big dream.
“This will be the first phase in Grace’s long-range vision for the hill providing an accessible barn facility with adjacent dressage-size arena, shaded sensory arena with direct connection to sensory riding trails, covered tacking bays, fully accessible restrooms and classroom areas and horticulture area for work/study opportunities. The next phases of the dream master plan will add a covered arena, 2+ miles of walking/riding/nature trails, camp/cabin housing and a multi-purpose building to serve as an auditorium and cafeteria. In the long term view, we want to design and operate a safe and exciting healing refuge in the country for families with special needs in Okaloosa and Walton Counties,” said Hall.
Grace needs plenty more help to bring this facility to the finish line. Click here to donate.
To read a previous story about Grace Rides, click here.