Equest hosts 16th annual Freedom Day

This blog was written by Equest's Director of Clinical Services Jeff Hensley, MS, LPC, on Sunday, September 17, 2017.

On 9/11, Entrepreneurs For North Texas, a program of Communities Foundation of Texas, hosted their 16th annual “Freedom Day”.  This extraordinary event was conceived from the tragedy of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks when a dedicated group of EFNT members decided to turn the anniversary from one of mourning into one of service. 

The very first Freedom Day saw 150 volunteers from EFNT member companies join together in community service and inaugurate an event that has now spanned 16 years. Since 2012, Freedom Day service projects have focused on nonprofits serving veterans, military families, and first responders – nonprofits like Equest! We have been fortunate to host Freedom Day volunteers for the last three years, and the work they’ve done has been transformative for our organization.  

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This year, almost 950 volunteers, including 150 veterans from Equest partner organizations like Carry The Load, Attitudes & Attire, The Mission Continues, F.A.R.M., IAVA, and the Cohen Military Family Clinic at Metrocare, fanned out across the Metroplex to complete projects at 16 nonprofits on both September 9th and September 11th in the largest Freedom Day yet! 

To kick off the weekend of service, volunteers met at the CFT to hear inspirational words from two amazing keynote speakers: U.S. Air Force Veteran and Purple Heart Recipient Johnnie Yellock (Saturday), and one of Equest’s favorites, U.S.A.F. Veteran Reverend Herman “Bax” Baxter (Monday). Both issued a call to service, calling it the highest form of citizenship, and a way to find common purpose in difficult times. Following the morning motivation, EFNT’s Program Director (and the driving force behind Freedom Day) Sejal Desai disbursed the troops with the order to “go forth and serve!”

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65 of the volunteers came to Equest from EFNT member companies like DHD Films, StratiFi Health, Core 24, and Under Armour. They were joined by veterans representing Teams Red, White and Blue, Adaptive Training Foundation, and IAVA.

After a welcome from the Equest staff, volunteers spent the day getting dirty while they cleared trails of organic debris and trash, canopied trees in the large turn-out pen to make room for our horses, prepared the site of our new sensory trail, and constructed cabinets and shelving for our therapy room.  When all was said and done, this dedicated group of volunteers contributed significantly to our mission - changing lives through equine therapy!

All of us were changed forever by 9/11 and live with a profound sadness at all who were lost on that tragic day. But we find strength in the example of the volunteers who came together on Freedom Day. Through their service, they demonstrate the strength and resiliency that define our American character.

See you all next year!