Proceeds from the event will go to a local foundation that sponsors equine therapy
Rachel Bungarden would have been a senior this year at Burlington Township High School.
She passed away in 2010 when she was 11 years old after suffering a stroke, but Rachel’s memory lives on through the Scatter Sunshine nonprofit foundation, which is holding its biggest fundraiser of the year in June.
The foundation sponsors therapeutic horseback riding for children with special needs in partnership with two New Jersey farms.
Scatter Sunshine Day, as the event is known in the township, will be held Tuesday, June 5. It will be the ninth time the foundation, which was started by Rachel’s family, has held the fundraiser.
Luigi’s Pizza Fresca will be donating 10 percent of its sales to Scatter Sunshine from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. A henna tattoo artist will be set up at the pizza shop from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and a Mister Softee vendor will be there from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.
The fundraising efforts will also include a dress-down for students and staff at Burlington Township and Westampton schools who wear the foundation’s yellow T-shirts.
“We usually raise about $4,000 when all is said and done,” said Lisa Bungarden, Rachel’s mother and also a member of the Burlington Township Board of Education.
Scatter Sunshine works with Riding High Farm in Allentown, Monmouth County, and Majoda Stables in Moorestown.
“We’ve sponsored quite a few local riders as well,” Bungarden said.
Rachel was diagnosed at birth with a 7q35 deletion — a rare chromosomal abnormality. Doctors told her family that she would have physical and developmental disabilities and that she wouldn’t live longer than a couple years.
“They told us she would never walk,” Bungarden added.
Bungarden said her daughter began riding horses when she was two-and-a-half years old. It proved beneficial, and Rachel was eventually able to walk thanks in part to her time spent horseback riding.
Equine therapy can be an especially engaging experience for children with disabilities and adults who use a wheelchair because they are always looking up at the world, Bungarden said.
“On the horse, it’s the one time they’re able to look down and see the world from that vantage point,” she said.
“They also teach a lot of responsibility,” Bungarden added.
Equine therapy programs allow participants take care of the horses as they become more familiar with the animals, Bungarden said.
For more information on the foundation, visit http://www.scatter-sunshine.org/.