Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor Named First Capital Region Volunteer Citizen of the Year

In its first year, Direct Energy and The Gazette’s Capital Region Volunteer Citizen of the Year award is honoring Chris Lehman of Voorheesville, NY. Lehman is the founder of the Albany Therapeutic Riding Center (ATRC), a facility that provides therapeutic horseback riding lessons for those with mental and physical disabilities. Therapeutic riding contributes positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of impaired individuals and is also has health and educational benefits.

Lehman, a certified riding instructor for nearly 28 years, founded the ATRC in 1981 to provide those with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, paraplegia, mental retardation, brain injury and others to have recreation that is both suitable to their activity level and calming in nature. Since founding the ATRC, Lehman has dedicated her life to not only helping students of all ages to enjoy themselves and benefit from horseback riding, but she also cares for the horses at the center, even after they are retired from lessons. Chris and the rest of the volunteers at the ATRC work together to saddle and lead the horses, as well as walk beside riders to ensure that they remain safe, focused and confident during their therapeutic lessons. Each fall, Chris goes the extra mile and organizes a party for her students where prizes and special awards are given. Aside from volunteering her time and energy to the ATRC, Chris also teaches local 4H students how to properly show and care for livestock on a weekly basis.

“We are thrilled to honor Chris Lehman as our first ever Capital Region Volunteer Citizen of the Year winner,” said Daniel Beck, general manager for The Gazette. “Chris is a true example of the amazing volunteers we have in the Capital Region.”

By winning the Capital Region Volunteer Citizen of the Year award, Lehman will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a $5,000 donation to the ATRC from Direct Energy. The donation will be used to purchase new riding helmets for the students at the center, as well as new toys, food and vet care for the center’s horses.

“By hosting this award program in New York’s Capital Region, we were hoping to find an outstanding volunteer that makes the community a better place to live. Chris and her dedication to helping those with disabilities truly fits the bill and we are excited to honor her in this way,” said Sayed Khoja, commercial director for Direct Energy.

A special event honoring Chris Lehman will be held on Indian Ladder Farms on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 6:00 pm. Representatives from Direct Energy and The Gazette will be on hand to present Chris with her award. Indian Ladder Farms is located at 342 Altamont Voorheesville Road in Altamont, NY 12009.