Beth and Fred Pellerito first met Mitch Albom on The Heart of Detroit in 2018, when they took over running O.A.T.S., a equine therapy organization for children and adults with special needs. Now Albom has checked back in with them to see how things are going since the pandemic began.
They said that it has been a challenge just trying to start things up since they were initially able to reopen in June. They’ve had to reduce the number of riders they can assist at once, and have been figuring out how to quickly clean the riding gear to keep the riders and staff safe.
They said that it was great to see their old students return after the reopening, along with plenty of new riders as well. Unfortunately the new COVID measures have meant that O.A.T.S. has had to close its doors again, as well as cancel their fundraisers, but they’re hoping to reopen again as soon as it is safe.
The Pelleritos shared some of the inspirational stories of students who have seen drastic improvements from meeting with the horses every week. They said that program is all about building relationships and trust with the horses, taking care of them, as well as getting out to meet with staff every week. Beth said that the program has opened doors for many of their riders.
Since their first appearance on The Heart of Detroit, they said that they’ve been able to expand their services, and help children and adults with a wide range of disabilities, from autism to ADHD anxiety.
They said that even with the pandemic, its important that they are able to keep helping people as safely as they can.
“We intend to keep the smiles going,” Fred said.
You can help O.A.T.S. by going to their website and making a donation.