PARTY FOR MARTY
By Mitch Hurst
By Mitch Hurst
Up until his passing from cancer in 2007, Marty Domitrovich was a major supporter of Equestrian Connection, the Lake Forest-based organization that provides equine-assisted therapy to adults and children with physical and emotional challenges.
Diana Schnell, Equestrian Connection’s founder and executive director, says Domitrovich was dedicated to building awareness of the organization’s work in the community and to give back to those who helped him with his cancer battle, including the oncology nurses at Northwestern Medicine.
So much was Domitrovich’s commitment to Equestrian Connection that its annual fundraiser carries his legacy—Marty’s Barn Party. This year’s event, which raises nearly a third of the organization’s budget, will be held on September 30 and feature catering from local businesses with music by Danielle Bradbery.
“It’s pretty exciting because our entertainer was winner of The Voice years ago and she just got nominated as Female Vocalist of the Year for the Country Music Awards,” Schnell says.
In addition to food and music, there will also be a silent and live auction featuring tickets to music concerts and sporting events, foodie chef experiences, and getaways at private vacation homes.
“It’s your chance to be a part of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of adults and children with special needs,” says Schnell. “This year’s party is especially important amid the rising costs of everyday life and care. Demand for our services also continues to rise as families face new health issues.”
There’s an added benefit for attendees of this year’s event in the form of a $75,000 matching grant for Equestrian Connection’s therapy services and scholarships for needy families and clients.
“That’s exciting because that’s our mission,” says Schnell. “The purpose of the party is to fund these families who can’t afford it and we’re getting more and more with the current state of the economy.”
Equestrian Connection’s program portfolio is designed to fill service gaps that exist in the special needs community today. In addition to providing hippotherapy and therapeutic riding therapy services, it offers more than 13 programs, from art and massage therapy to job training and even birthday parties.
Led by clinically licensed occupational and physical therapists and a professional and experienced staff of clinicians and instructors, the Equestrian Connection team works tirelessly to meet its client needs.
“Our slogan, Best Days Happen Here, is more than a marketing slogan,” Schnell says. “It represents how Equestrian Connection clients, our clinical team. and the entire Equestrian Connection support staff respond after participating in or leading our outcomes-based programs.”
In addition to hippotherapy and therapeutic riding, programs also include equineassisted psychotherapy, a “Re-Connect” program that helps combat veterans regain trust, a program that helps people with balance-related issues, a non-mounted program for people with Alzheimer’s, and programs that help teach job skills to teens and adults and promote strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination.
Typically, about 500 guests attend Marty’s Barn Party, and Schnell says it’s a “barn” party that defies expectations.
“It’s in a barn but anyone who’s been realizes it’s as nice, if not nicer, than your typical chicken dinner fundraiser,” she says. “We have a great venue. We try to make it as high-end party as we can.”
Marty’s Barn Party will be held September 30 at Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit equestrianconnection.org.