At the end of June RTRA (RTES) lost a very dear friend and Patron, Milan Ilich – well known and highly respected businessman in this community. Milan was a quiet philanthropist, whose generosity can be seen throughout the city of Richmond.
To start a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program was a huge undertaking for a group of parents and community volunteers, even with the guidance of the City of Richmond and the Richmond Committee on Disability. We received a few donations from community organizations, but not enough to cover program requirements for staff, horses, etc. – not, that is, until we were introduced to Milan Ilich.
From the very beginning, Milan and his wife Maureen took a keen interest in the program – – – providing RTES with a large grant to help us get the program off the ground, then ensured that we received annual donations from their family Foundation in the years that followed. Milan was a very quiet individual who avoided public acknowledgement of his generosity, so the only way we could ensure that he received our thanks was to take a plaque of appreciation directly his office and present it to him.
In 2000, the Riding Centre where our program was located was put up for sale – – thus putting into uncertainty the future of RTES. While we struggled to come up with a plan, we were put in touch with Milan & Maureen’s daughter, Laurie Cavanaugh – – – who, along with her husband Barry and business partners Trevor and Wendy Graham, invited us to move the program to their newly established Twin Oaks Farm. In the Fall of 2001 we were able to relocate the program to Twin Oaks, where we were given the opportunity to construct our own program space (offices, rider’s lounge, tack room, cross-tie-stall and mounting area) along side of one of their two indoor arenas. As we reached our 10th Anniversary at Twin Oaks this September, we did so knowing that all we have accomplished, all the children whose lives have been changed – all would not have been possible had it not been for the support of Milan, and his family. We will never forget him!