The Children’s TherAplay Foundation’s Expansion Status

August 2020

For nearly two decades, The Children’s TherAplay Foundation, a not-for-profit pediatric outpatient clinic, has been providing physical (PT) and occupational therapies (OT) on horseback for children with diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, traumatic brain injury and developmental delay. The foundation’s therapists combine a sensory-rich, child-centered clinic with hippotherapy—a treatment strategy incorporating the movement of horses—to provide carefully graded motor, sensory and neurological input. It is one of the few clinics in the country dedicated to providing innovative PT and OT on horseback.

As the population continues to grow and the needs of The Children’s TherAplay Foundation’s clients also continue to grow, the foundation recognized the need to launch a capital campaign and expansion plan that has been underway—despite a global pandemic—and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.

The Children’s TherAplay

Progress Amid Pandemic

The foundation realized it was outgrowing its current approximately 4,800-square-foot facility located at 9919 Towne Road in West Carmel about five years ago. With the expansion and renovation of its current facility to an impressive 11,000 square feet—upon completion—it will be able to provide more treatments, options and space for growth and development. It will also be the nation’s largest hippotherapy facility in the country, once completed.

The expansion spaces include

  • More space for dedicated private evaluation and treatment rooms.
  • Addition of speech therapy.
  • A dedicated life-skills area, equipped with child-sized kitchenette and restroom.
  • Centralized administrative offices.
  • Spacious waiting rooms and both family-friendly and quiet areas.
  • An all-weather event and meeting space, which will serve as a venue for fundraising events.

We spoke with Kathy Pelletier, executive director of The Children’s TherAplay Foundation, about the status of the construction and how the project has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Children’s TherAplay
Kathy Pelletier

“The Children’s TherAplay Foundation is such a special place,” Pelletier said. “There are still some great things happening here all the time, and we’ve really been able to navigate the uncertainty of the last several months. Interestingly enough, the road to getting to our [construction] kickoff on April 15 was so bumpy and full of so many starts, stops and delays, it was almost comical when the pandemic started. That was literally the first time our [expansion] project continued to move forward without hinderance.”

Pelletier explained that the project was held up for approximately six months after breaking ground in 2019 due to permitting delays.

“Of all the things that could stop this project from moving forward, a global pandemic was unable to make a dent,” Pelletier expressed. “We actually benefited from it. It just worked out that as we were closed [due to the statewide shutdown] and had switched to telehealth services, the construction crews put the pedal to the medal and probably completed 10 weeks of work in seven to eight weeks.”

The Giddy Up & Grow Capital Campaign

As previously stated, the foundation realized that it was outgrowing its current space and was experiencing a growth in children and families that it is servicing.

“To give you some perspective, in 2013, we were roughly 300 sessions per month, and currently, we do over 800 sessions per month—continuously,” Pelletier shared. “It got to the point where we were able to do the great things that we’ve been doing [for nearly 20 years], but we were not able to customize our programming to meet each child’s individual needs.”

The Children’s TherAplay

The foundation has been raising the necessary funds for the $4.4 million Giddy Up & Grow Capital Campaign through more than 170 generous donors and through its partnership with United Way Central Indiana, which offered a million-dollar match for The Children’s TherAplay Foundation fundraising.

But the goal isn’t quite yet met. The campaign is 75% fulfilled, and the foundation is seeking additional donations to raise the remaining balance.

Pelletier explained that naming rights are still available, or folks can make a legacy gift in honor or memory of someone, and any monetary donation will go a long way to helping the foundation’s fundraising efforts.

The foundation’s annual fundraiser, the 18th Annual Children’s TherAplay Hoe-Down, is scheduled for Saturday, September 26, 2020. However, due to the pandemic-related restrictions and safety protocols, the foundation is expecting the fundraiser to look vastly different from past events.

The Children’s TherAplay

“The Hoe-Down is a huge part of our annual fundraising, and it’s not something we can take out [of the equation] without it being a tough [financial] blow for us,” Pelletier emphasized. “We have decided to do Hoe-Down Live with a much smaller crowd—200 max—and Hoe-Down at Home as a virtual option to participate in the event. We have so much sponsorship support and enthusiasm from our supporters, so we felt we had to plan something creative and as safe as possible so we can connect with those supporters and raise vital funds for our mission.”

To learn more about The Children’s TherAplay Foundation programs and services, visit childrenstheraplay.org, and to learn more about available naming rights and how to donate, go to childrenstheraplay.org/capital-campaign.