At the end of June, I was given the opportunity to watch Larry Cudmore in action. He is the mastermind behind Champ’s Heart, an equine program for individuals between two and twenty years of age with cancer, disabilities, or special needs, and their families. Champ’s Heart is the Idaho Falls Moms Blog’s feature Eastern Idaho 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization for July 2020.
During my visit, Champ’s Heart welcomed guests from a local organization for children with diabetes. When I arrived, the participants were gathered around the person in charge of the group. They were then separated into teams led by the volunteers. I followed the teams as the fifty-minute session progressed. The first ten minutes involved cleaning up horse poop with pitchforks. There was a little laughter and no one seemed to complain. The horses were then treated to having their hair braided and bodies painted. I had heard that participants had the opportunity to paint horses, but to see this was a different story. The creativity and concentration poured out of each individual with every stroke of their paintbrushes. As Larry said, “the brush strokes of painting calm even the most nervous participants.” After the paintbrushes were cleaned, the teams rode the horses, learned about horse etiquette, and took buggy rides. Larry even squeezed in a little birthday celebration in all of the activities. The birthday girl was treated to a group serenade of “Happy Birthday,” and to a pair of cowboy boots. It was absolutely beautiful to see how comfortable the children became as they got to know the horses.
Larry is in the process of planning fundraising events with other local organizations and has recently received funds from a United Way grant to purchase an Independence Saddle. Champ’s Heart is fully funded by volunteer time, service, space, and financial donations. Donations, in the form of cash or check, can be made out to Champ’s Heart and mailed to Champs Heart, 2643 Galway Circle, Idaho Falls, ID 83404. Donations can also be made via Champ’s Heart Venmo and PayPal accounts.