48th FTS volunteers 300+ hours for RIDES

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss -- Saturday marked a significant volunteer milestone for the 48th Flying Training Squadron, as they surpassed 300 hours of volunteer time with the R.I.D.E.S. program in Caledonia, Miss.

Riding to Improve Development Esteem Strength and Spirit is a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic horse riding for special needs children. 

The 48th FTS began volunteering with R.I.D.E.S. in February after learning about the organization's admirable mission. 

With the guidance of Lt. Col. James Fain, 1st Lts. Terilee Christen and Eugene Gonzalez began coordinating volunteer efforts and have involved more than 24 fellow Alleycats. 

Members of the squadron perform activities such as grooming and saddling the horses, spotting children as they ride and conducting therapeutic exercises with the riders. The volunteer work has even inspired squadron cohesion and morale. 

"R.I.D.E.S. is a great way to start off your weekend, helping great kids ride horses while contributing to a fantastic organization with my family, friends and coworkers," said Capt. Eric Brinkman. 

Over the last five months, the 48th FTS has made a substantial contribution to R.I.D.E.S. operations, said Patricia J. Malone Hudgins, R.I.D.E.S. president and founder. 

R.I.D.E.S. is the only organization of its kind in the region that operates year-round, and as a result, serves seven counties, the entire northeastern Mississippi region and northwestern Alabama. 

Individuals travel from as far as Hamilton, Ala. -- 65 miles away -- to take advantage of the services R.I.D.E.S. provides. 

To get involved with R.I.D.E.S. or for more information about the program, contact Lts.
Christen or Gonzalez at Ext. 2649 or Ext. 2035. (Courtesy of the 48th Flying Training Squadron)