East Tennessee therapeutic riding academy, STAR, gets big donation

SouthEast Bank donated $100K to Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding.
SouthEast Bank donated $100K to Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding.
Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 9:17 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2022 at 11:34 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For 35 years, Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR) has offered programs designed to help people through the healing power of horses. The therapeutic riding program serves people of all ages with varying types of special needs, including veterans, dementia patients and at-risk youth.

Founder and Executive Director Lynn Petr started the organization in 1987. It is the only therapeutic riding program in East Tennessee that holds premier accreditation from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH), which sets international industry standards for health and safety.

On Thursday afternoon, as STAR launches a capital campaign, SouthEast Bank kickstarted the effort with a $100,000 gift to the organization. The money will help with renovations.

“This money is going towards bird netting for the entire arena and to redo the footing of the surface for the ground,” said Petr.

“We’re grateful to be in a position to hopefully continue the work for another 35 years as well,” said SouthEast Bank CEO Bill Thompson.

Debbie Moll’s daughter Jennie, who has Down syndrome, started riding at STAR last fall.

Moll said the benefits have been amazing, “It helps build confidence her ability to interact with a horse and even build a relationship with that horse, use her language more, it’s been a really good thing.”

STAR has locations in Lenoir City and South Knoxville.

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