Helping Hooves

Release Date: 11/30/2012

This Saturday, Dec. 1, an entire semester's worth of planning will reach fruition when Dr. Brian Hardman's Critical Inquiry (CI) class puts on a Walk/Trot 5K and 1K Fun Run as a fundraiser for Equestrian Zone in Russellville, Ark.

Equestrian Zone is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of persons with special needs/disabilities through hippotherapy, which is therapy utilizing equine movement, as well as therapeutic riding. It is the only facility of its kind in the state.

The Walk/Trot 5K, which will be the primary fall fundraiser for Equestrian Zone, was the brainchild of Ozarks Assistant Professor of English Amy Oatis, whose daughter has greatly benefited from her time with Equestrian Zone. Oatis shared her vision with Hardman, who enlisted his CI class to help, and together they have spent a good part of the semester planning this event as the class's community service project.

"My CI class has spent quite a bit of time over the course of this semester planning for the race and dividing our responsibilities, and this week we are deep into the work of getting everything ready for the starting pistol," Hardman explained.

The race is expected to draw around 200 participants, so Hardman's class has a lot of planning and preparing to do before the big race day.

In addition to preparing registration and race packets in advance, Ozarks students will be setting up the race bright and early Saturday morning, manning water stations throughout the course, cheering on participants, recording finishing times, and cleaning up after the race.

"In effect, we're doing most of the volunteer work that it takes to prepare for, put on, and wrap-up an event like a 5K," said Hardman, an associate professor of English.

Participating in community service projects is a great experience for new Ozarks students, but working for an organization like Equestrian Zone is particularly satisfying.

"We decided to make this our community service project, because Equestrian Zone helps so many people, kids and adults alike, in ways that no other organization can.  It also fills what would otherwise be a real void in the River Valley. If not for Equestrian Zone, those who need their services would likely have to go out of state," Hardman explained.  "Plus, Equestrian Zone is a non-profit organization. Their existence depends on donations and the generosity of the community, and we want to make sure they can continue doing the important work they are doing."

The race will take place at Bona Dea Trail in Russellville at 9 a.m. on Dec. 1. Interested participants can register on race day. The entry fee is $25. For more information, call Equestrian Zone at 479-970-8351 or visit the "Equestrian Zone 5K" event page on Facebook.