Community Champions: Rachael retires from Faith Equestrian
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - After 15 years of changing lives and impacting families, Bonnie Rachael took time last week for one more student and one more miracle.
“Children have spoken for the first time out here. They have walked, with a little assistance, but out of the wheelchair,” Rachael said.
Rachael opened her Faith Equestrian therapeutic horseback riding academy in 2006 to fill a need she saw.
“There is a gap in our community for people and individuals with disabilities. There weren’t very many activities educational or social. I read about a therapeutic center in another city and it was as if God touched my heart and said this is what I want you to do.”
Since then, she has put hundreds of kids in a better place by putting them on a horse - and letting an innate, inexplicable bond work magic.
“Children come here withdrawn and they start attending and riding these horses and they blossom. They can socialize with other kids, which normally they wouldn’t have that ability to do.
Rachael has been in the saddle the whole as Faith Equestrian has gone from two horses and three students to 14 and 130 families currently served. Right up until she found the successor, she says she has been looking for since the day she opened.
“I was praying one night, and I said ‘God, please, it’s going to take someone special to do this.’ And he put her name in my heart. Fran Todd’s name in my heart.”
Rachael retired on Sept. 1 and handed the reigns of the program she started over to the former director of LIFE Inc., who shares a similar experience, interest and compassion.
“She’s got a great non-profit background, over 24 years in non-profits. She has a strong love of animals.”
“It’s a great transition because I have worked with people with disabilities for so many years ... here, I get to see a little more of the emotional side and the emotional healing. So, it’s a great transition for me,” Fran Todd said.
And for Faith Equestrian, which is the only way Rachael could move on.
“I think the biggest stress for me was having someone stepping into this position that could carry it forward with the right mindset and the right passion. Because it’s hard work and without passion, it’s only a job.”
“I know from personal experience the healing power of animals. I want to see that. I want to help children bring out things God has given them that animals bring out.”
Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.