“Transforming the lives of individuals with special needs through compassionate therapeutic equestrian experiences.”
Gary and Sandy Weatherwax
LoveWay Projects, Inc. was founded by Gary and Sandy Weatherwax in 1973 in memory of their 17 year old daughter, Laurie. While in high school, Laurie had taken a school trip to Augusta, Michigan to visit the Cheff Center. At that time, Cheff Center was the only therapeutic riding center in the mid-west.
It was from this visit that Laurie’s dream to help others with physical, mental or emotional disabilities was borne. Laurie was very interested in bringing a program of therapeutic riding to Northern Indiana due to the fact that her father required a wheelchair. After Laurie’s unexpected death the Weatherwax’s founded LoveWay Projects, Inc. In 1990, the name was officially changed from LoveWay Projects, Inc. to LoveWay, Inc.
- Common Disabilities that LW Serves:
- LoveWay serves anyone with a diagnosed disability; physical, cognitive, or emotional. Some disabilities served include:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Down Syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Developmental Delay
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Seizure Disorder
- Chromosome Abnormalities
- Brain Injuries
- Many More..
Non-Profit and Growth
Buildings, People, Horses and Giving
LoveWay was incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization Sept. 24, 1974. The first board of directors was comprised of Mr. & Mrs. Weatherwax and Jykla Wiegand. Ms. Wiegand was the center’s first instructor and received her therapeutic instructor training at The Cheff Center, Augusta MI. The first lessons for special needs children were provided in the Weatherwax driveway with specially selected and trained horses. A volunteer training program was established and many community-minded volunteers began donating their time to assist with students. Local resident Agnes Riegsecker was the organizations’ first volunteer.
Fund raising was a community wide effort and $50,000 was raised to build the first indoor arena in 1979. Stacy Stearly a fourteen year old student from Jimtown High School conducted a 65 mile trail ride and raised over $4,000 in pledges to help with the arena project.
The Welcome Center was constructed in 1996 under the leadership of board president Wayne Campbell. Shortly thereafter a strategic planning session provided the plan to hire an Executive Director. In the fall of 2000 the board hired Sandra Carbone of Shipshewana as the first Executive Director.
In April of 2003 under the guidance of board president Karen Thomson, a capital campaign completed the new 80′ x 104′ NIBCO Riding Arena with a lead gift from the Rex & Alice A. Martin Foundation. With funds provided by three anonymous donors, the 60′ x 80′ Equipment and Hay barn was completed in the fall of 2004. In 2006 paving of the driveway and parking lot for handicapped accessibility was provided by the Goshen Rotary Club and Rieth Riley, Inc.