In A Nutshell:
Provide therapeutic programs via recreational opportunities for people of all ages with disabilities and children with cancer.
Why They Rock:
- Programs: offer skiing, swimming, horseback riding, ice-skating, fishing, Saturday Night Out, golf, kayaking, cycling, and horticulture.
- Cancer Camps: provide young cancer patients, age 5 to 23, to experience the Southwestern Montana outdoors via summer & winter recreation camps.
- Saturday Night Out: children with disabilities spend one evening a month at Eagle Mount to enjoy board games, dancing and fun activities; and the night provides social respite time for the participant’s family to catch a movie or spend time with other siblings.
- Western Rendezvous: started in 1996, a benefit geared to community with the following activities: silent and live auctions, dancing, whole hog barbecue, and a children’s carnival which includes inflatables, a climbing wall, and games for children.
Eagle Mount believes the human spirit is much stronger than cancer or a disability: no legs – go skiing, cancer – enjoy summer camp, no mobility – ride a horse…50Give has been stoked for months to see beautiful Montana “Big Sky Country”, and to experience the extraordinary business where miracles are delivered daily.
My grateful contact Peter set-up a full day where I met quality people that run Eagle Mount, along with their supporting horse all-star cast. First task was to beautify and clean windows of hard water in the state-of-the-art aquatic center under the veteran direction of Pat (20 years plus)…I was lucky to see Pat in action teaching a class geared for surgery recovery. The center is equipped with a ramp allowing easy access for water-specific wheel chairs and cranes to transition people without mobility in their legs…would love to see these specifications standard at all pools.
Next, Green Thumb/Tea Expert Susan recruited me to help with the Horticulture Program. I aided with the creation of neat fabric voles (a field mouse) slated to be sold at an arts fair which were being stuffed with catnip (I am new to nip and thought we were implanting mary jane)….also learned never to cut paper with fabric scissors (told while scissors were pointed at my eyeballs), and voles are loco field mice – basically tear up the yard under the snow in the winter. Took a stitching pause to shovel compost and deliver the soil to a wheelchair-specific raised garden bed…this place is pure equaility. Susan called for a tea break, and we all sipped a mixture of leaves grown in the garden – very delicious and awesome to relax with an easygoing group of volunteers…they supplied the mary jane joke!
The finale of the magic day ended with down-to-earth Dana Eklund who oversees therapeutic horse riding and keeps the barn in great shape. I helped with ranch chores: folding horse blankets, grooming horses (never stand directly behind a horse – everything else I write is trivial), wing man for ‘Therapeutic Test’ (testing if horse can handle different situations): we played catch, did some weaving through poles, and tried to scare horsie with a Cookie Monster doll…COOKIE PASS! My favorite part was riding around the perimeter of the stables in a Gator for feeding time…watch the horses getting stoked (okay, I was more stoked) for dinner!
I returned home to Homewood Suites provided by my generous father (flew out from D.C. to help the tour for a few days)…I love how Bozeman makes mainstream stores fit the decor of a ‘ski-inspired’ town – Mickey D’s looks like gourmet dining. We had a fabulous meal at Montana Ale Works, I actually had a conversation with the native buffalo I was eating (calm down pita – I will lay down in his field when I go…we did a handshake which was firm as oak)…also skipped to Billings to experience Bull Mountain Grille…nothing like Rocky Mountain Oysters (Testicle Tuesday – Bull Style)!
Before I left Montana I went for a run in a canyon and at the top of the plateau was a placard for Luther Kelly, famous explorer of the American West…I pondered how hard the struggle was for pioneers creating America, and I then thought how Eagle Mount has become the modern-day ‘Miracle Pioneer’ for children living with cancer and disabilities. This absolutely gorgeous state of Montana exists because of adventure, and the pioneers would be proud of Eagle Mount…they are carrying their spirit.
“Be or follow a pioneer, the world is hungry for positive change.”