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Horse Play Inc. received a $500 grant from Walmart to go toward the construction of new handicap-accessible restrooms for their riders. Walmart presented the $500 check to Horse Play Wednesday, Aug. 14. Pictured from left are Shasta Stacy and Brandy Duke of Walmart, Philip Bailey, Lisa Hatfield and Loretta Christian of Horse Play, and Tullahoma Walmart Manager Mark Kelly. In back are Scotty Riddle and Ross Parkerson of Walmart.

Horse Play Inc. is one step closer to making a dream a reality thanks to a grant award from Walmart.

According to Horse Play officials, the nonprofit equine therapy group for special needs children received a $500 Walmart Community Grant to go toward the construction of new handicap-accessible restrooms at the facility.

According to Loretta Christian with Horse Play, the organization is in considerable need for new restrooms for the children who participate.

“They need a handicap-accessible bathroom,” she said. “Right now they use a port-o-pot, and that’s really hard to get in and out of.”

She and the rest of the volunteers with Horse Play have been discussing the idea of building new restroom facilities for a number of years. Due to budgetary constraints, however, the idea has never been able to get off the ground.

“We’ve been talking about a bathroom for a couple of years, and there’s just never enough funds leftover after everything’s been taken care of for the year to go ahead and build a bathroom,” Christian said.

That didn’t stop her from looking into grant opportunities, however. Christian said a friend mentioned the Walmart Community Grants and suggested she try to apply for one.

“Somebody told me there’s local grants that you might can apply for,” she said. “I went online, checking the stores that were in our area that might offer a grant, and Walmart was one of the first ones that popped up.”

Once she applied, Christian said she was prepared to wait months before hearing back about her application.

But she didn’t have to wait long. In just six weeks, Christian heard that Horse Play Inc. had been chosen to receive the $500 grant to go toward the new restroom fund.

 “They get how many thousands applicants every year for these grants, so I thought that was amazing to get that response so fast,” she said. “It was a blessing.”

Both she and board president Lisa Hatfield thanked Walmart Tullahoma and Manager Mark Kelly for helping them achieve their goal for the organization.

“Besides getting the grant, we want to recognize Walmart, because they’re really involved in doing things for their local community,” Hatfield said.


Further fundraising

The Walmart grant is just the first step, according to Christian.

She said Horse Play Inc. will also host a barn dance fundraiser next month in order to continue collecting money for the restrooms.

According to Christian, the Swing & Sway for Horse Play Barn Dance will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at the Wiseman Park Pavilion in Lynchburg.

“We’re going to have concessions for sale, and all the proceeds are going towards the building of the bathrooms,” Christian said.

The night will feature the South Jackson Street Band performing all types of danceable music, including jazz, polka and swing, and Joe Orr Realty will provide an auctioneer for the live auction that will take place during the night.

Christian said she is currently looking for any business or crafty community member to donate auction items.

Tickets for the barn dance will be $25 per couple or $15 for a single entry. For those aged 11 to 15, a child ticket is available for $8. All children 10 and under receive free admission. Finally, businesses or large groups looking to support the event can purchase a table for 10 people for just $100.

Christian said sponsors are needed “desperately.”

“We have what is called ‘Sponsor a Child,’” Christian said. Sponsorships are available for $250 for each individual child sponsored. Sponsors can cover two children for $300; three for $600; four for $800 or five for $1,000.

For more information, contact Christian at 931-434-1297 or Hatfield at 931-455-5189.

Erin McCullough may be reached at