Todd Gibbs '98

When Todd Gibbs '98 was approached about becoming the executive director of Pegasus Therapeutic Riding in Brewster, N.Y., he understood the challenges he would face running a small, nonprofit organization powered by volunteers, a few staff members and a tight budget.

He had years of experience in fundraising, including four years as Quinnipiac's director of alumni and parent relations. He also knew the value of quality therapy for people with disabilities. His two daughters were born with a sensory processing disorder. He and his wife, Carrie (LaPerriere) Gibbs '97, took the girls for weekly occupational therapy and other services at organizations similar to Pegasus.

"We feel blessed that we had several remarkable therapists," Gibbs said of his children, now 7 and 9. "Our two girls are leading very full and active lives."

Gibbs has helped raise millions for Pegasus, which provides personalized, equine-centered therapeutic programs, including riding. Pegasus historically has helped individuals with disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, brain injuries, learning challenges and attention-related disorders.

Pegasus was founded by equestrians who witnessed the benefits of riding for people with disabilities. Riding uses muscle groups that are difficult to involve in a clinical therapy setting, explains Gibbs, who studied athletic training and physical therapy at Quinnipiac. Pegasus is funded by grants, generous supporters and modest service fees.

Last fall Pegasus had about 150 participants, ages 4-88, in Brewster and its satellite facilities in Greenwich and Darien, Conn., and Pleasantville, N.Y.

"Parents are blown away that their children, who for the most part are looked at as being different or having limitations, have a lead line on a 1,000-pound animal, and there's no sense of fear-and no one to tell them they can't do that," Gibbs said.

This story was adapted from the Winter 2014 issue of the Quinnipiac Magazine.

 

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