The fundraiser benefitted Whispering Manes and featured NY Times reporter and "Horse Crazy" author Sarah Maslin Nir.

Nancy Batchelor, Carlotta Goyeneche, Munisha Underhill, Doris Neyra, Motaz Ashri

Mini horses, violins, yachts and more. On the eve of Give Miami Day on Nov. 17, at one of the oldest yacht clubs in the Southeast, the horse crazy community in South Florida giddied up to raise more than $40k for therapeutic horse-back riding and equine assisted scholarships for children and veterans with disabilities.

The dockside fundraiser benefitting Whispering Manes featured a conversation with NY Times Reporter and critically acclaimed author and avid equestrian Sarah Maslin Nir who shared excerpts from her headline making autobiography, Horse Crazy which takes a high-spirited gallop into the reasons why so many people are horse-obsessed and how ponies and horses have the unique ability to transform the lives of those with disabilities through equine therapy.

Early Powell, Christy Powell, Nancy Hector

A staff reporter for the New York Times, Nir was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for “Unvarnished,” her investigation into New York City’s nail salon industry that uncovered the exploitative labor practices and health issues manicurists face. Before becoming a staff reporter, Nir was the Times’ nightlife columnist, covering 252 parties in eighteen months and has reported for the Times from around the world, from West Africa and the Alaskan wilderness, to post-earthquake Haiti and wildfire-ravaged California. She earned a master’s at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and graduated from Columbia University.

Sissy De Maria Koehne, Guenther Koehne, Lisa Mendelson, Victor Mendelson

Nir who began riding horses when she was just two years recanted scenes from Horse Crazy, her fascinating, funny and moving love letter to the graceful animals and the people obsessed with them. A testament to her love of horses,  she flew down to Miami to share her story and help raise funds for equine therapy.

The evening also celebrated the new partnership between Give Back for Special Equestrians founded by Sissy DeMaria-Koehne, Dr. Heather Kuhl and Isabel Ernst, in 2013 with Whispering Manes Therapeutic Riding Center. Give Back for Special Equestrians, founded in 2013 is an all volunteer non profit that provides therapeutic horseback riding scholarships for disabled children and veterans in Florida and New York.  To-date, the organization has raised in excess of $240k for special needs riders to experience horse power that heals.

Sarah Maslin Nir, Sissy De Maria Koehne

Whispering Manes, founded by philanthropist Nancy Hector, is a 501©(3) non-profit organization offering therapeutic horseback riding and horsemanship classes for people with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. Participants are able to interact with horses through mounted and un-mounted activities while being supervised by PATH-certified professionals. The program aims to promote improvements in core and overall muscle strength, balance, gross and fine motor skills, and communication skills. Additionally, participants frequently achieve a sense of self-accomplishment and self-esteem that is promoted by the powerful bond between humans and horses.

Heather Kuhl, Helen Piccard, Nancy Hector, Sarah Maslin Nir, Sandra Fiorenza, Sissy De Maria, Nancy Batchelor

There was not a dry eye in the audience as a parent of a special needs child took the stage to share her family’s heartfelt journey of healing emotilnally detailing  her son’s transformation thanks to the therapeutic horse back riding he has experienced at Whispering Manes.

Among the notables in attendance were Nancy and Jon Batchelor, Nancy Hector, Christy and Earl Powell, Dr. Guenther Koehne, Helen Picard, Dr. Heather Kuhl, Sandra and Randy Fiorenza, Munisha Underhill, Kevin Diemar, Carol and Jim Robinson, Brian Exelbert, and Carlotta Goyenche, the leader of Give Back’s Young Ambassador Program.

“This evening would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors, Nancy Hector, Nancy and Jon Batchelor, Christy and Earl Powell, The Nateman Family, Unity Jets, Coastal Cares, Sandra and Randy Fiorenza, Mercedes Benz of Coral Gables and Cutler Ridge, Cultivate PR, Coral Gables Community Foundation, Morgan Stanley, Baptist Health of South Florida, and The Cabrerizo Family,” said Give Back for Special Equestrians co-founder, Sissy DeMaria-Koehne.

Kevin Diemar, Garrett Grossberg
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