It’s not every day you have the chance to offer emotional support in the form of a chicken coop demolition. But that’s exactly what Kim Ditzler, Behavioral Health Counselor at Marathon Health, did through a recent volunteer activity with Grand Valley Equine Assisted Learning Center in Western Colorado. 

The Ambassadors Together committee at Marathon Health, which celebrates all the ways that employees give back to their communities, is thrilled to recognize Kim’s efforts with the Q1 2023 Community Impact Award. 

Each quarter, up to four ambassadors or teams are recognized for their volunteering efforts, and the company donates $500 in their name to the non-profit they supported. 

About the Nonprofit

Grand Valley Equine Assisted Learning Center (GVEALC) uses the healing power of horses to strengthen the mind, body and spirit. The organization provides horse-based therapies for children, adults, veterans and public servants including police and fire personnel to facilitate growth, learning and healing to people of all abilities.

Kim Shares Her Community Impact Award Story

A student at the local college died of suicide in February of this year. They were in the social work department, and it had a huge impact on their small department.

GVEALC and I offered to be available for a chicken coop demolition and visiting time with the horses, chickens, goats, peacocks, bunnies, and of course the ferocious barn kitties who demand pets for their work. The goal was to give the young professionals a place to process their grief, anger, confusion and sadness in a location outside of where they feel like they have to “fake it to make it.”

I provided the sledgehammers, critters and an open ear, and they went to work at their own pace through the day, tackling what they needed to.

I first became aware of GVEALC through a patient’s father at Marathon Health who participated in hippotherapy (using horses for physical, occupational and speech therapy) there. Their child is an adult with autism, and the parents felt their child would benefit from therapy but struggled with clinical settings. Marathon Health gave me the go-ahead to meet them where they felt most secure, and I’ve been involved with the group for four years now.

I am thankful Marathon gave me the chance to serve the family where they would be the most productive. I will continue to provide support for GVEALC’s building of therapeutic day camp programs geared toward serving those developmentally and physically unable to attend more typical and traditional camps.


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