Private donors from Impact 100 step in to fund projects for Botanical Garden and Dream Riders

Traditionally, only two of the five nonprofits chosen as finalists for IMPACT 100’s annual grants are awarded the main $100,000 grants. However, a pair of IMPACT 100 members were so inspired by two of the nonprofits that didn’t win in October that they later privately funded the projects. The Western Kentucky Botanical Gardens and Dream Riders of Kentucky are the beneficiaries of that private funding. Jodi Krahwinkel, current president of IMPACT 100, said that model of the organization is about collective giving.

“The whole model of Impact 100 is obviously collective giving, but it’s also about dreaming big and it’s about inspiring. … Two of these ladies decided that it was worthwhile to dig a little deeper and fund those projects. So we’re very excited about that,” Krahwinkel said.

Laurna Strehl, executive director at the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden, said they originally applied for the grant to help with their Path of Hope Healing and their preparation as they switch their entrance and office space to the WeatherBerry building.  Strehl said that donors Charles and Mary Ann Medley are fully funding the installation of the path, and their gift came after a stop at the garden.  “Mary Ann indicated to me that coupled with their excitement for the purchase of WeatherBerry and what that might do for the garden is what inspired them to want to be on this project,” Strehl said.

The Path is intended to be uplifting to people affected by cancer, providing the experience of “healing powers of nature.”  The butterfly statue features different colored glass ribbons, coordinating with the top 12 cancers diagnosed in Kentucky in 2021. The path is a 320-foot paved pathway and is being installed by Ward Pedley Jr. 

“The timing of this project, coupled with the launch of a new entrance, is to set the stage for a spectacular entry into 2022,” Strehl said. “It just reconfirms that the garden is a tourist attraction and an amenity for the residents of Owensboro.”

Dream Riders focuses on providing people with physical, cognitive, social or emotional needs an opportunity to witness the joy and the therapeutic experience that horses can provide.  Sandy Webster, executive director at Dream Riders, said the donation will go toward funding to make the grounds more accessible for customers. Webster said they will be resurfacing the arena, which is going to be extremely crucial to helping the people that utilize the organization.

Dream Riders provides therapeutic services for clients through the use of their horses, and oftentimes their clients have disabilities that make it difficult to navigate along with the current paving they have now.  “We also have volunteers who are oftentimes seniors … so that accessibility for our clients who have disabilities is very important. It is it’s the last missing piece at Dream Riders really,” Webster said.

The relationship with the donor began with the IMPACT 100 campaign and since the donor learned of the organization and the needs, Webster said they have been moving hand in hand with everything they are doing as an organization.  The donor wished to remain anonymous.  “We’re really excited about the opportunity to receive this incredible donation and that it just speaks to how generous the Owensboro community really is,” Webster said.

By Josh Kelly  JANUARY 4, 2022 | 12:09 AM Original article in Owensboro Times: