PEG OF MY HEART

Everything in Todd Gibbs’ life, both personally and professionally, has prepared him to be executive director of Pegasus Therapeutic Riding.

At the time he was recruited, Todd was working at Sacred Heart University as director of development. A trained physical therapist, he had left the clinical physical therapy world for a career in nonprofit fundraising and spent several years with a consulting firm that worked with organizations very similar in size to Pegasus – all invaluable experience he would later draw on.

After four years of a grueling schedule that required him to be on the road nearly most of the week, he left the consulting business to work at Sacred Heart because of the high toll consulting took on his family, particularly  his daughters – Taylor, 7, and Madison, 5, who have special needs. (While they are not autism spectrum, they have what is referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, a neurological-based disorder.

Around the same time Todd was interviewing for the job, his oldest daughter’s occupational therapist was independently recommending therapeutic riding.

Todd acknowledges that the impetus to leave Sacred Heart for Pegasus began in large part because he was the parent of children with special needs. But the more he learned about the organization, his reasons broadened.

The way Todd saw it, Pegasus was an organization that had existed for 25 years and was at the point where it needed to figure out where it was going.

“I felt that there was an element of entrepreneurialism to the job, and what moved me was the fact that I’d spent 13 years in the fundraising world and I’d never seen the types of support in an organization like Pegasus received.  And what that told me was the mission was right. This place changes lives.”

While he felt he had done many meaningful things in his career up to that point, Todd realized that this might be his one shot to make a difference professionally, so he decided to take a job that would turn out to be a life-changing experience for his family, too.

For Taylor, it has meant building a sense of self-confidence and self-worth, affecting every facet of her life. Younger sister Madison also has sensory integration dysfunction, but her needs are different than those of her sister. The soon-to-be kindergartner will start the therapeutic riding program this summer.

Since buying the Brewster farm in 2006, Pegasus has been able to grow 50 percent. But it needs to expand even further. To that end, the organization has come up with a comprehensive plan to develop and enhance the Brewster property with a new barn, allowing it to increase the program 100 percent.  Site plans have been approved by the town of Brewster, which will include three significant enhancements over the next several years.

Those enhancements will be completed based on Pegasus’ ability to raise funds.  But judging by the excitement and passion I saw in Todd as he showed me the blueprints, I’m guessing he’s going to get the job done in no time.

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