Every year, Kristin Wright arrives at in Bethany with her “friends,” a group of very special, “special needs” children. Wright organizes outings throughout the year for these young people and sponsors them with funds raised at her annual Jam for Jimi’s Friends. Last year’s visit to the farm was one none of us will ever forget.
The children took a tour of the farm, meeting all the animals and petting pigs, sheep, goats, alpacas and steers. Afterwards, each one was given a ride on one of the Locket’s Meadow therapeutic riding horses. One after another they were helped onto the horses and taught how to walk, steer and stop. Over by the doorway, however, was one boy in a wheelchair, we’ll call him Seth, who wasn’t sure he wanted to ride. All of the other kids were finished, and I walked over and asked Seth one more time if he wanted to get on a horse.
Seth has cerebral palsy and has very limited control of his body, but he finally nodded and we sprung into action before he changed his mind, wheeling him up the ramp and lifting him onto Falstaff, our superstar therapeutic horse.
With two of of us on either side, we held Seth in place and walked the perimeter of the indoor. At first Seth was clearly terrified, but at the end of his first lap around the indoor arena I asked if he wanted to go again. To our delight, he nodded yes . . . Seth was getting the hang of this cowboy thing. Around and around we went, finally landing back at the ramp. We asked him how he liked his first ride on a horse, and this young man who could not speak and had minimal communication skills, beamed from ear to ear, raised his hand in the air and gave us the most beautiful “thumbs up” any of us have ever witnessed. We all laughed and cried at the same time while we helped Seth off his horse and set him back in his wheelchair. There’s no question that not only was Seth changed that day by his ride on Falstaff, every one of us was changed, as well.
For those of you who don’t know what Jam for Jimi does for Kristin Wright’s “Friends,” this is just one small example. If you’re free on Sunday, stop by Orange Ale House and help out a really great organization.
Kathleen Schurman, Editor Bethwood Patch and owner of Locket’s Meadow Farm
Jam 4 Jimi’s Friends” is an annual fundraiser that benefits local children with special needs. It helps to provide assistance with the payment of any medical bills, multiple disciplines of therapy, wheelchair ramps and local summer camps for these kids.
The event will take place on Sunday, March 4 at Orange Ale House, 517 Boston Post Road in Orange CT from noon to close. Admission is $20, and includes free food and a great line-up of popular bands that donate their time and talent to the charity.
Kristin Wright started the event in 2006 when she needed help getting her son, Jimi into a clinic that was not covered by her insurance. Jimi, 9, has Aspergers Syndrome (AS) which causes him difficulty in communication and social interactions.
Then a bartender at Martini’s Café, Wright knew many local musicians and asked if any would play for free if she hosted a fund-raiser – everyone agreed, and Jam for Jimi was born.
“As a mom, you do whatever you can for your child,” Wright said. “The first year was huge, and everyone told me that I had to do it again. It helped us so much that I thought – we could do it again and give the money to other kids and causes.
Each year, Jim Hassenmayer, owner of the Orange Ale House, hosts the event providing the venue and food. The bartenders donate 100% of their tips – usually was well over $1,000 each year.
The back room is dedicated to children of all ages who are treated to face painting and karaoke.
“I have a great staff,” Hassenmayer said. “We like to help out in the community and this is a really good cause.”
Wright said that after the second year the event enabled the charity to pay for a ramp at the home of a child with muscular dystrophy; provide another child with hearing aids and provided several scholarships for children to attend Camp Happiness – a camp specifically for children with special needs.
In addition to helping the children, Wright said Jam 4 Jimi also donates money to other worthy causes, such as the Breast Cancer walk.
“We just like to keep the spirit of giving going,” she said. "I’ll keep doing this as long as people keep coming.”
"We have a children’s room featuring Karaoke with Jim, arts & crafts, food and special surprise guest appearances. We feature many local bands such as Highfield, which agreed to reunite for the event, Total Hacks, The Navels, Liplok, Elwood’s, Streets, Samurai Cab Company, Tune Squad, Sellouts, The Signature Band, and Fake Foo Fighters," Wright said. "There will be raffles, give-a-ways, drink specials and Great Times!"
"This event proved to be very successful for the last 5 years and we are hoping your generosity will add to the amount of assistance that we can provide to these inspirational children," Wright said. "We would be grateful for any contribution that your organization is willing to donate to this great cause, i.e., cash donations, raffle prizes, gifts or any unique services/idea that you may be able to offer."
Donations can be made by contacting Kristin Wright at (203) 283-3939.
Their Tax ID number is 35-2369682
Check out our website at www.jam4jimi.org
You can also email at firstname.lastname@example.org