The Daily Gazette and Direct Energy have announced that Chris Lehman of Voorheesville is the winner of the first Capital Region Volunteer Citizen of the Year award.
Lehman is the founder of the Albany Therapeutic Riding Center, a facility that provides therapeutic horseback riding lessons for people with mental and physical disabilities.
Therapeutic riding contributes positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of impaired individuals and also has health and educational benefits.
Lehman, a certified riding instructor for nearly 28 years, founded the ATRC in 1981 to provide those with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism and mental retardation with calming recreational opportunities suitable to their activity level.
Each fall, she organizes a party for her students, at which prizes and special awards are given.
Lehman also teaches local 4-H students how to properly show and care for livestock.
“We are thrilled to honor Chris Lehman as our first ever Capital Region Volunteer Citizen of the Year winner,” Daniel Beck, general manager of The Gazette, said in a statement. “Chris is a true example of the amazing volunteers we have in the Capital Region.”
For winning the Capital Region Volunteer Citizen of the Year award, Lehman will receive a $1,000 cash prize and ATRC will receive a $5,000 donation from Direct Energy.
The donation will be used to purchase new riding helmets for the students at the center, as well as new toys, food and vet care for the center’s horses.
“By hosting this award program in New York’s Capital Region, we were hoping to find an outstanding volunteer that makes the community a better place to live. Chris and her dedication to helping those with disabilities truly fits the bill, and we are excited to honor her in this way,” Sayed Khoja, commercial director for Direct Energy, said in a statement.
A special event honoring Lehman will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Indian Ladder Farms, 342 Altamont Voorheesville Road in New Scotland.