A picture’s worth a thousand words, but for the Lend A Hand Therapeutic Riding Foundation, medical images are worth more than a thousand dollars. XRA Medical Imaging has, to date, raised $2,500 to benefit the Lend A Hand farm and their riding programs for children with physical and mental disabilities.
“I was very, very overwhelmed that such a big company like XRA wanted to partner up with Lend A Hand,” said Board President Larry Moses.
XRA, with 10 locations across the state, donates $5 to Cranston-based Lend A Hand for every donation card presented by a patient. The partnership began just over one year ago, and on Monday, XRA passed over a check for $2,500.
XRA Executive Director Philip Lynch explained that Lend A Hand was a perfect fit for the company, as they looked for a charitable cause to support. XRA owners had encouraged Lynch to find a charity that met three goals: that it be based locally, that it served children and that it be small enough where the company could make a real difference. In the past, the company had donated to worthy, albeit large, charities, where their donations were just one among many.
“All those were worthy charities, but the thing that was missing is we didn’t feel connected. Instead of us having half a dozen charities we’re involved with, we wanted our focus to be on this one charity,” Lynch said. “We wanted to foster this sister charity relationship that we could connect with on all levels. What we wanted was something that was ongoing.”
Lend A Hand met all the criteria XRA ownership was looking for, and more importantly, Lynch added, offered a worthy cause that doctors, patients and employees could support. Lynch had been involved in an equine therapy program in Massachusetts, so he was excited about the idea of raising money to make therapeutic riding accessible to more children.
“I saw the results with children and the happiness that they experience by being on a horse,” he said.
Lend A Hand offers therapeutic riding each week to 70 children with various physical and mental disabilities, and the need is constant. There are another 10 children on a waiting list. Lend A Hand recently purchased three more horses, so come spring they’ll be able to serve 100 children. Still, insurance does not cover therapeutic riding as a means of treatment, so families must burden the cost. Thankfully, Moses said, organizations like the Shriners and XRA offset some of those costs.
When XRA reached out to Lend A Hand, he was floored by their offer.
“XRA has definitely put us on the map; so many doctors are being introduced to what Lend A Hand does,” Moses said.
Debbie Belanger, regional manager for XRA Medical Imaging, works closely with referring physicians, and said the feedback has been very positive. All doctors have to do when they refer a patient is either fax over a donation card or send the patient into the XRA offices with one. Patients can also download cards off the Lend A Hand website, at www.lendahandri.org.
“We started seeing more referrals based on the fact that we were working with this charity. I think it touched a nerve,” Belanger said. “They liked the fact that they didn’t have to do anything but they were being rewarded.”
At the end of each month, Lend A Hand and XRA send out thank you cards, ensuring these physicians that their referrals are translating into real donations.
Lynch says more and more donation cards have come in every month, as word spreads about the program. As the cards come in, the staff puts them up on a board to boost morale and show employees the impact they’re having on the Lend A Hand patients.
Some of XRA’s 120 employees have begun volunteering their time at the Lend A Hand farm as well, and will participate in upcoming events, like the Hasbro Family Fun Day on Sept. 22, and the Lend A Hand golf tournament on Oct. 15 at Alpine Country Club. Golfers can still sign up for $150 per person, which includes dinner after golf.
“The fact that we have employees volunteering is huge, because they’ll tell other employees,” Lynch said. “It’s not a temporary program or a one-shot golf outing; it’s an ongoing thing.”
In the future, Lynch hopes to promote more staff volunteering and would like to direct the XRA donations to support one child at a time.
“What we’re thinking about doing next is focusing on a specific need, a specific child. We’re thinking that will really get people connected. These things motivate people,” Lynch said.
Also supporting the Lend A Hand cause is Cranston-based P.J. Keating, which has provided ground material for the farm’s parking lot, horse paddocks and interactive riding trails. Over the past four years, P.J. Keating has provided more than $6,000 worth of materials. Their twice-annual donations are all Lend A Hand needs to maintain the property.
Michael Trant, material sales representative for P.J. Keating, says it’s a cause he’s happy to support.
“It’s so peaceful up there,” he said. “I went up there to see what it was about. It looked like a good thing.”
Moses says the support of these companies makes their riding programs possible.
“On behalf of Lend A Hand, we feel fortunate and very appreciative that there are companies like P.J. Keating and XRA that are local and supporting local charities like Lend A Hand,” he said.
For more information on Lend A Hand, visit www.lendahandri.org or call 826-9278. For more information on XRA Medical Imaging, go to www.XRAMedicalImaging.com. XRA has locations in Cranston, Johnston, Middletown, Smithfield, Wakefield and Warwick.