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Nonprofit helping children and adults for more than 20 years gets surprise grant from 13News Now

Graz'n Acres Farms has been around for decades, helping children and adults cope with learning, behavioral, and physical disorders.

SEDLEY, Va. — Out in Sedley, near Isle of Wight, workers on Graz'n Acres Farms tend to the horses. It's a calm and quiet scene... a great place for anyone needing help to feel peaceful.

That's what the director of the farm's Therapeutic Riding Center, Cyndi Raiford, said she loves about her nonprofit's locations. 

She said it helps the children and adults she works with to concentrate on the exercises and tasks at hand. 

"Graz'n Acres was founded in 1999," said Raiford. "Most nonprofits don't make it over five years."

The organization is dedicated to providing therapeutic riding, driving, and other related activities for children and adults with physical, intellectual, emotional, and learning disabilities.

Graz'n Acres also has an At-Risk Program to help people with behavior disorders and at-risk youth.

Raiford said the horses are the heart and soul of the organization, because without them, they wouldn't be able to do the therapeutic exercises. However, the horses and all their food and medical care come at a big cost. 

Raiford said while the pandemic restrictions forced her organization to close up shop and stop holding fundraisers for an extended period of time, the inflation impacts following the height of the pandemic created the biggest challenge.

"This year's been harder than during the pandemic. It's hard to believe," she said. "Everything across the board for horse care has gone up. So, yeah, we're having to really scramble to make up for that loss."

Raiford says despite inflation's impact, she's grateful for the people who help along the way.

"We have a group of 40 dedicated volunteers who hung with us. We have a great staff here, so everybody just pitched in and made it happen," Raiford said.

13News Now wanted to show appreciation to organizations like Graz'n Acres with the help of our parent company, TEGNA.

During our interview with Raiford, we surprised her with a $5,000 check to help in her latest efforts to assist children and adults across Sedley and Hampton Roads.

"Oh my gosh, thank you! That makes me breathe easier," Raiford laughed. "We're rural. We pull from a large area. Franklin, Suffolk, Southampton, but we put students from Chesapeake, Newport News, Emporia and Petersburg. So, we're pulling from a large area and that's going to go to great use. All the students deserve a chance."

Raiford said the money will help her cover the medication for her horses to continue her programs with children and adults. She said the money could help cover her for the month of December and even beyond that.

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