Board of Directors
Spirit Therapies, LLC
Patricia Perks
Volunteer Training Coordinator
I was born in Maryland close to DC. I have an older brother who lives in Nebraska. I was married for 32 years and have two children and eight grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. I lived in Maryland my whole life until 2011 when I decided to retire from working as an administrative assistant and move to Las Vegas.

I have always loved horse and have one that I left in Maryland. She is too old to make the trip here. I wanted to volunteer somewhere to keep busy and was directed to Spirit.
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Cindy Saunders
Member, Past VP
I moved to Las Vegas in May 2008 from Akron, Ohio. I have been volunteering at Spirit Therapies since the end of May 2008. I have loved horses for as long as I can remember; growing up on a farm in Ohio. When I moved here I wanted to be around horses again.

At Spirit; I love all the horses, but it did not take long for me to fall in love with the kids and adults that we help. I believe the work done at Spirit Therapies touches and helps so many. I wanted to find more ways to help spread the word of Spirit Therapies and decided in 2010 to join Spirit's Board of Directors. I just completed my two year term as the Spirit Therapies Board of Directors Vice-President. I am still on the board and will be working to help with advice to the new Vice-President, James Martin
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Francine Catterton
Member, Rider
I guess I was anxious to get into this world I was born three months early, resulting in my having a birth defect, cerebral palsy. My Mom was told when I was ten months old that I would be a vegetable, I would never walk or talk or be able to take care of myself. She told me later that when she looked in my eyes she saw a spark of life that told her the doctor was wrong. She took me to Children's Hospital to see a doctor who specialized in treating children with cerebral palsy. I started physical therapy the very next day and began my life journey. I learned to use my abilities to overcome my disabilities.

Years of therapy, orthopedic surgeries, and lots and lots of sweat later, I walked and talked and haven't stopped since. Then I was told by the "experts" that I would never graduate from high school. I graduated from high school in 1988. I started at the University of Maryland, the following fall. I am a college graduate and now teach children with special needs. I am often reminded, by well-meaning people, of what my limitations would be in life. I guess I'm like my Mom I don't listen to those people.

When I first discovered therapeutic riding I had no idea of the profound impact it would have on my life. At that time, approximately five years ago, I was taking 25 doses of meds a day and physical tasks were becoming more difficult; I used a power chair while teaching and braces to allow me to walk. With each passing day, I was becoming weaker, slowly losing my ability to be independent.

Then I heard about therapeutic riding. I had always loved horses but never thought it would be possible for me to ride. Since I began riding many limitations have been lifted. Riding has changed my life in more ways than I could imagine. Today, I am a different person with a full life ahead of me. I no longer use a power chair and I walk without braces, occasionally using crutches. I am down to 2 meds a day, and after riding I am drug free for almost three days. Therapeutic riding is more than just therapy on a horse it's a life changing event. I am more confident, outgoing, willing to try more things. My dream is to make therapeutic riding available to everyone who wants or needs it; to give back what has been given to me.
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Becca Bottazzi
Member
I moved to Las Vegas in 2003, after our tour in Germany via the U.S.A.F. I am a native of New Orleans, and studied Music Therapy at Louisiana State University. During that time, I got the opportunity to work with so many different special needs children, and fell in love with their big hearts.

My son was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder at age 2, and was placed in an early intervention program. He has now mainstreamed and graduated from high school in June, and is attending Southern Utah University to pursue his BFA in Graphic Design.

My daughter was diagnosed with Myoclonic Seizure Disorder when we moved to Las Vegas. She remained in Specific Learning Disability classrooms until 6th Grade when she was placed in Special Education. She is currently a junior in high school, and a rider for Spirit Therapies. Up until about 2 years ago, she was withdrawn, lacking in confidence, and having aggressive issues due to her disorder. After attending lessons in horseback therapy at Spirit, she began to smile more, communicate more, and be less aggressive.

I had never heard of horseback therapy or been around horses frequently, but to see how much it helped her and so many other children reach physical and mental milestones encouraged me to want to be part of such an amazing team!

I'm excited to contribute in any way I can to further assist these wonderful children and hopefully educate people why Spirit Therapies is an important part of our community. Go Team Spirit!

My husband and I renewed our 20 year wedding vows in 2014, and my daughter was excited to be a flower girl in the ceremony.

I enjoy hiking, yoga, movies, Pinterest, healthy cooking, quality time with family, thrift store shopping, and most recently, RC airplane flying.

I fully support the Autism and Epilepsy Foundations, Hugs for Hailey, Wild Wing, Safe Nest, and the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation, as well as small businesses in Las Vegas and surrounding areas.
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Marti Agassi
Member
Marti Agassi, Ph.D., is the founder and designer of Marti Agassi Jewelry. A self-taught artist and metalsmith, Marti's creative professional pursuits became intentional after a 10 year career as a behavioral therapist. She worked with children and families, and authored an award-winning children's book, Hands Are Not For Hitting, that has been translated in 10 languages and can be found in over 12 countries. Her involvement in community organizations include, Coloring for Chemo, Spirit Equine Therapies, Opportunity Village, and the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. An essential thread woven into Marti's professional paths, is the focus of inspiring a commitment in connecting souls and opening hearts.
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Bree Knowlton
Member
I am originally from a small rural Pennsylvania town. I obtained a degree in Archaeology and now, like the majority of good Archaeology majors, am working in the hospitality industry.

Not too long ago I obtained a divorce, did a happy dance, and then abruptly found myself with a disturbingly large amount of free time. In an effort to cure myself of this malady, I started looking around at places to volunteer.

After digging through mountains of VolunteerMatch pages, I tripped over an old volunteer ad for Spirit Therapies. Kids and horses, how could this go wrong?

It was a perfect aligning of the stars. From the first day I was hooked: the horses were sweet, the kids fantastic, and the other volunteers were fun to work with. Spirit has an amazing impact on our little corner of the world and I'm so excited to be part of such a beautiful program.
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