By Jess Dubbs, Director of Marketing
How Leg Up Farm Got Started…
Back in 1997, Louie Castriota and his wife were planning to open a small therapeutic riding facility that would merge their love of children and animals into something that would benefit the entire community. He wasn’t sure where or how to get started and had just begun the planning stages of his dream, when six months into it his daughter Brooke was diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease and their vision quickly expanded to an ultimate therapy center. After more than 13 years of hard work and dedication, Leg Up Farm opened in 2010 at its current location on North Sherman Street in Mount Wolf, just north of York, PA.
The mission of Leg Up Farm is to enrich the lives of individuals with special needs and their families through support and customized programs.
For starters, Leg Up Farm is unique in that it’s pediatric therapy center is the only facility in the country to provide children impacted by special needs with physical, occupational, aquatic and speech therapy, in addition to therapeutic horseback riding, counseling services, nutrition services, and educational and recreational programming under one roof. And, with the Able-Services program, they now offer a continuum of care to individuals up to 59 years of age.
Leg Up Farm serves more than 700 individuals every year. They primarily serve York County, but they also work with Lancaster, Adams and Dauphin Counties as well as northern Maryland. Something very important to note, which was a shock to me, is that within a 50-mile radius of Leg Up Farm there are approximately 50,000 kids who have been diagnosed with a special need. This shows how vital their services are to our community and beyond.
If you would ask any of their clients (whether child or adult or even parent, family member or friend) what their favorite thing is about Leg Up Farm, you would get a resounding answer of “the environment”. And that was not by mistake. When Louie set out on his mission to create the ultimate therapy center, he took great care in the details. He knew that a sterile, clinical environment is not ideal when working with individuals with special needs or their families. That type of setting can make anyone uncomfortable and want to retreat quickly. (Think how you feel the moment you step into a doctor’s office.)
So, he wanted the environment at Leg Up Farm to be very engaging. Basically the idea is that kids think they are playing; by feeding fish in the therapeutic Koi pond, playing on the barrier free playground, driving a truck in Matthew’s town, riding horses and so much more. But in reality their therapy is wrapped around that play. They can meet their goals and make a ton of progress without even really realizing it. Parents love it because they get to watch their kids progressing while having fun and being happy, and their other children can come along and play right along with them, and they can even sit in the atrium or any number of places outside and relax while their child is in therapy. There’s really nothing else like it.
If you have a friend or family member who would like more information about receiving services at Leg Up Farm, you can simply call 717-266-9294 and ask to speak to their intake coordinator, Carmen Iosif-Clark or email her directly and ask for an evaluation. After the evaluation is completed on site, a plan of services will be developed. Because Leg Up Farm is so unique in the services they offer and because they are a non-profit and do not cap how many Medicare recipients they accept into their programs, there is typically a waiting list which varies in length by service. Since reimbursement from the state is very low for Medicare recipients, they hold many fundraising events throughout the year to help offset the costs while providing necessary services to their clients.
Leg Up Farm MudFest Series.
This is a three race trail run series, held in the Spring. The first race is an 8K held at Perrydell Farm and Dairy. The second race is a 5K held at Brown’s Orchards in their Pick Your Own Orchard. And the third race is a 5K and Kid’s fun run held right at Leg Up Farm. Proceeds benefit Leg Up Farm.
Leg Up Farm Car & Cycle Show.
Leg Up Farm partners with the Mustang Club of Central PA to host a car show in June. The show includes awards, food trucks, facility tours, kid’ activities and more. Proceeds benefit Leg Up Farm.
Clash of the Clubs Golf Tournament.
Typically held in May, the Clash of the Clubs is a double flight shotgun tournament with one flight in the morning and one in the afternoon. This takes place at Cool Creek Golf Club and has always been a great day of fun, support and golf! Proceeds benefit Leg Up Farm.
Fall Fest at Leg Up Farm.
Fall Fest is the largest event held at Leg Up Farm. It’s held each October and includes food trucks, craft vendors, kid’s activities (including pumpkin decorating and a trick-or-treat trail), silent auction, equine demonstrations, open house, a free photo booth with the Moove In Self Storage cow mascot and more.
Fall Fest this year will be held on Saturday, October 15th from 9am-2pm. Parking for the event is located off site at Central York High School and Northeastern High School. Free shuttle service will take you to and from Leg Up Farm and the schools. Admission is free – be sure to join us!
A new and exciting venture this past year has been the addition of Leg Up Farmers Market. This market is a full service, all natural, organic grocery store that focuses on locally produced goods. The proceeds from the market directly benefit Leg Up Farm and Able Services. If you haven’t been there yet, I highly recommend that you stop in. Not only will you find a huge variety, but you will be eating better quality foods and supporting a great cause at the same time.
When asked what everyone should know about Leg Up Farm, Maura Musselman, Development Specialist says, “When you think about it, everyone knows someone who has, or knows someone who knows someone who has a special need. And think about Autism now, specifically, and how common it has become.” She continues, “We are not just your normal therapy center. It’s engaging and fun and our clients love to be here. We are truly one-of-a-kind. It’s the greatest place on earth!”
Leg Up Farm is always looking for volunteers. You can work in the barn, help with riding lessons, become a therapy aid, help with fundraising throughout the year and much more. If you’re interested, you can learn more on their website and fill out an application to get started.
You can also pledge your support with a donation at any time. Because Leg Up Farm is a non-profit organization, they rely heavily on fundraisers and donations to bring their services to their client and the community. If you would like to donate to Leg Up Farm, you can stop by in person, donate online, attend, participate in or sponsor any or all of their fundraising events, shop at Leg Up Farmers Market or mail them a check or money order made payable to: Leg Up Farm, 4880 North Sherman Street, Mount Wolf, PA 17347-9637.
We, at Moove In Self Storage, have been partnering with Leg Up Farm for several years now. We sponsor their events, we help them with their storage needs at our Morgan Lane location in York, and at last year’s Fall Fest we held a raffle to give away an iPad Mini to a random winner and also donated an iPad Mini to Leg Up Farm. This year we will have some great prizes once again – but you have to stop by to find out what they are! Plus, this year we will have an official “photo booth” along the Trick-or-Treat trail where you can have your photo or kid’s photo professionally taken with our Cow mascot, then emailed to you directly. Leg Up Farm is doing great things for the kids and adults with special needs in our community, and we look forward to many years partnering with them!