CHICAGO (CBS) — A beloved charity that pairs special needs children with therapy horses is facing eviction and an uncertain future.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez takes a look at the program and the effort to save it.READ MORE: Families Hold Unity Rally To Remember Loved Ones Lost To Gun Violence
At Ready, Set, Ride, Taylor Sargeant is all smiles, and so his her mother.
“I just see her so happy,” she says. “Taylor has cerebral palsy. She was born 12 weeks early, and there were concerns that she would ever walk, talk or move. So for this, it’s just amazing.”
Taylor is one of 70 special needs kids Ready, Set, Ride pairs with therapy horses.
Ten-year-old Elle Zemaitis is another.
When Elle is asked how she feels when riding a horse, she says: “Happy. It brings joy to my life.”
Sarah Zemaitis, Elle’s mother, says the equestrian center is a great place for the children to be like anyone else.
Since 2001, a Plainfield barn and riding arena has been home to Ready, Set, Ride.
In January, the charity was told the property was in foreclosure.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Slightly Warmer Temperatures Before Cold Returns
“At that point, we were told the bank would be contacting us on what to do with our rent,” said Susan Majchrzak, a Ready, Set, Ride board member.
Majchrzak says they stopped paying rent to their landlord at that point.
He sued to get them evicted, and won a court order for Ready, Set, Ride to vacate the property by July 17.
“It would be horrible if the barn was to go away,” said Sarah Zemaitis. “I don’t know what we would do.”
The charity is hoping to work out an arrangement with the bank or the landlord so that they can stay in the barn, but they realize they may have to move.
“It’s not what we want to do,” said program director Lisa Afshari. “We want to stay together. We want all the horses to stay together. We want the kids to stay together.”
Majchrzak said: “We’ve done as much as we can do and we’re at the mercy of the bank, the law, and everything else that’s in place in these matters. “
Ready, Set, Ride is fighting the eviction and a Go Fund Me page has been set up to help save the charity.MORE NEWS: Woman Questions COVID-19 Clinic After Receiving Results Before Testing
The landlord and his attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.