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Friday, 17 August 2012 23:07

Pay it Forward: Jeff Agar, VP/GM, Genesis Seating

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Pay it Forward: Jeff Agar, VP/GM, Genesis Seating PHOTO: Elijah Brumback
Through his efforts to guide the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding out of financial hardship, Jeff Agar has helped bring more alternative therapy options to children and adults with disabilities in West Michigan.

Agar's involvement with the Equest Center, a nonprofit that provides horseback riding to those with mental and physical disabilities, is a very personal story. Agar's son John was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. When Agar, the vice president and general manager of Genesis Seating, and his family moved back to West Michigan in late 1999, John enrolled in the Equest Center and has been riding once a week ever since.

While horseback riding provides mental and emotional healing, the physical action helps many people, particularly those with muscle disorders like Agar's son. Riding works to develop core muscles and strength, improving mobility for some people.

Shortly after joining the center, its owners approached Agar and asked if he would be willing to help the organization with its financials. At the time the Equest Center had hit a rough patch and the facility wasn't getting the attention it needed, Agar said. Tapping his background in finance, Agar agreed to join the Equest Center's all volunteer board.

"A lot of staff stepped up into leadership positions," he said. "There were those who through sheer will decided they weren't going to let the organization die off."

With the help of many others — including Kathy Ryan, the organization's current executive director — Agar gave the organization a new financial roadmap and a new path forward. The organization has since expanded twice and has gone from seven acres to more than 20 acres and grew to between 125 and 150 riders a week.

"Once you become entrenched in the Equest family, you get sucked in," he said. "Today, the organization is very healthy financially, and there have been some major donors who have committed to a major renovation."

Recently the center broke ground on a renovation that is set to improve the facility and its trails.

Read 1769 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 August 2012 22:56
Elijah Brumback

Staff Writer

ebrumback@mibiz.com

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