The organization, originally known as Heavenly Hooves, began in 2002 at the home of the Tompkins family. Horse enthusiast Thomasa Sanchez was the center's founder and first instructor, and continues today as a full-time volunteer CEO. From 2002-2005 horses were transported from the Tompkins stable to Give Kids the World Village to provide equine-assisted activities and therapies for children with life-threatening illnesses. The miniature horses now continue to visit special children at Nemours Children's Hospital and Bishop Grady Villas (residential housing for special needs).
In 2006 the organization moved to Osceola County's Heritage Park and expanded services to include ongoing mental, physical, and emotional therapies to individuals with disabilities. The program that serves individuals with disabilities and/or life-threatening illnesses is now known as the Heavenly Hooves program.
In 2011 the organization began a collaboration with the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and introduced the Horses & Heroes program that serves veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As well, educational programs and research initiatives were added.
In 2013 Osceola County voted to build a facility in support of the organization's vision to grow into an expansive research and educational center. In late 2016 the facility was complete and the organization occupied its new home. Now conducting innovative, valid research, the program has become an international leader in the standard of excellence. The organization aims to create a standardized delivery of service to ensure quality, as well as petition Congress and insurance companies to invest in this modality of treatment that can be unusually effective for the special needs population and Veterans who are susceptible to suicide.
In 2014 the organization was rebranded to The McCormick Research Institute, which now encompasses the Heavenly Hooves program, Horses & Heroes program, Education program, and Research initiatives. "McCormick" honors the legacy of Ruth McCormick Tankersley. Ruth, known as Bazy, was the mother of local Mark Miller who formerly owned Arabian Nights and serves as McCormick's Chairman. Bazy was a very special woman who once famously said, "I have an obligation to do good works for others." She was known as a community leader, an influential voice, publisher of the Washington Times Herald, and an icon in the Arabian horse industry. She came from a prominent Chicago family often dubbed the McCormick Media Dynasty. The McCormicks owned both the Chicago Tribune and The Washington Times Herald. Bazy's mother and father served in the US Congress and her grandfather, Mark Hanna, was known as a political kingmaker. Bazy was a dynamic and respected leader who founded schools, served on countless boards, and to boot, earned an honorary doctorate degree.
The modest beginnings of the organization have grown to serve over 20,000 riders utilizing 15 horses and the assistance of more than 200 community volunteers. As of 2019, staff includes a full-time pro-bono CEO, full-time COO, development director, volunteer services manager, stable manager, facilities manager, and managers for both our special needs and veterans programs, as well as a part-time business services manager and part-time pro-bono research assistant.
|Location||St. Cloud, FL|
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