The ROI of Volunteer Work: Joy and Boots!

Ariat International, sponsor of the EQUUS Foundation Champions program, rewards five volunteers every quarter with a $270 gift certificate for Ariat boots for their admirable work with horses.

“I know I am going to sound like a commercial, but I’m very excited to be a winner of the Ariat gift card this quarter,” said Amy Hefestay, who, along with Sharon Luciane, Diane Hopkins, Emily Jones, and Maureen Gannon, were selected randomly as the winners from the many volunteers who dedicate countless hours to the well-being of horses.

“My go-to footwear are my Ariat Terrain Waterproof boots! They are so comfortable and lightweight and are not only perfect for generic barn work but especially nice for lessons when I might need to trot alongside a horse. Thank you to the EQUUS Foundation and to Ariat International for supporting equine-related volunteer efforts.”

Amy Hefestay
Right Step, Inc.
Littleton, CO

Retiring in 2020 from the United Launch Alliance after 36 years in the Aerospace industry, Amy said, “volunteering with horses was calling my name. The Right Step has been a great match.”

Amy loves caring for their horses, but what she enjoys most is working with the children and adult lessons. “Seeing clients gain confidence, improve balance and flexibility, and increase communication is so rewarding,” said Amy. “I’m honored to be a part of such an amazing program. The three or four days a week I spend at the barn are the best part of my week.”

Sharon Luciane
Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue, Inc.
Afton, VA

Sharon has been a volunteer with Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue in Afton, VA since June of 2019. A retired police officer, she is able to offer her free time to caring for the rescue equines and helping with the myriad of chores at the farm.

Sharon is pictured here with Rose, who arrived at Hope’s Legacy on September 6, 2020 with a body score of 1. With the help of Sharon, the incredible volunteers and staff at Hope’s Legacy, the Blue Ridge Equine vet team, and Rose’s incredible will to live, Rose was nursed back to health.

Sharon said, “At the ripe old age of 61, I adopted Rose in February of 2021 as my first horse ever. I now take Western Riding lessons and ride Rose regularly. It all began with my volunteer work at Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue!”

Emily Jones
Camelot Center Therapeutic Riding Program
Southington, OH

Emily has been a volunteer at The Camelot Center since 2008. Her horse, Cash, joined the team of therapy horses at Camelot a few years back. “I was there as much as I could and loved being a part of the lessons and the barn chores. No matter what needed done I wanted to help.”

Emily dreamt about being a therapeutic riding instructor since childhood and was honored this year with an EQUUS Foundation Champion of Equine Service Scholarship to help underwrite the cost of obtaining her obtaining PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CTRI) Certification. Now fully certified, Emily teaches lessons three days a week.

Maureen Gannon
Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation
Greenville, NY

Now retired, Maureen spends most days volunteering at Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation, working in the office, the barn, and getting to love horses.

“What began as a chance to share time and a mutual interest with my niece, horses have become my passion and caring for them has become my mission,” said Maureen. “Honest in the purest sense, their courage, spirit and willingness to forgive and begin anew is deeply humbling and inspirational. Those of us lucky enough to know them and love them get so much more than we could ever give to these magnificent creatures.”

“I am so grateful to Susan Kayne, Founder of Unbridled, for allowing me the opportunity to make a difference and receive so much joy in return.”

Diane Hopkins
MARE Riding Center
Bakersfield, CA

“The greatest volunteer job in the world is to help people with special needs experience the movement of the horse,” said Diane.

Diane is one of the three founders of MARE Riding Center in Bakersfield, CA. What started thirty years ago with only two riders and one horse named Tana has grown leaps and bounds – providing “Hope on Horseback,” for exceptional equestrians in Kern County.

Learn more about Champions here

ABOUT EQUUS FOUNDATION: The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, is the only national animal welfare charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between people and horses. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: (203) 259-1550, E-Mail:, Website:

ABOUT ARIAT INTERNATIONAL: Ariat International, Inc. is the leading manufacturer of innovative performance equestrian footwear, apparel and belts. Featuring a patented technology designed to deliver stability, durability and comfort, Ariat pioneered the application of advanced athletic shoe technology into English riding boots and authentic Western boots. Ariat products are sold in a network of retail outlets throughout the world. For more information about Ariat products or for the Ariat retailer nearest you, contact Ariat at 800.899.8141 or visit

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Contact: Lynn Coakley