MEDINA — As a child, Spencer Geissman struggled to communicate, and he didn’t care much for crowds. Autism had limited him, or at least it seemed that way.
But Geissman, of Lodi, began to open up and blossom as he grew. Intensive speech therapy and an iPad helped him interact with others. And he gained confidence by learning to ride horses at Medina Creative Therapy Ranch, which serves children and adults with disabilities.
“This place has changed his life,” Geissman’s mom, Annette Geissman, said of her son, today 22. “He loves it. They have outings, and they teach daily-living skills.
“He is so happy,” Annette Geissman said. “This is the best program I could ever have hoped for him.”
On Saturday, Medina Creative Therapy Ranch on Lake Road hosted a Fall Festival fundraiser. The event included horseback riding, hayrides, a “trick-or-treat trail,” pumpkin painting and costume contests. All proceeds benefited the ranch.
Volunteers from Medina Christian Academy grilled hot dogs and sold bakery and gifts. A clambake followed the fest, which drew so many visitors that the ranch ran out of parking spaces and had to set up an overflow lot down the street.
The ranch is part of Medina Creative Housing, which helps adults with disabilities live independently in the community while receiving the support they need. The nonprofit is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
According to its website, Medina Creative Housing owns and manages 16 single-family group homes and has built 28 garden-style apartments. In addition, the organization offers vocational training and employment opportunities for clients.
At the Fall Fest, John Cooney of Seville watched his 18-year-old daughter, Julia, ride during an equestrian presentation. He said Julia has been attending the ranch for about two years, and rode in the Special Olympics for the first time this summer in Cincinnati.
“Anytime you ride a horse, it’s therapeutic,” said Cooney, a rider himself. “Just the natural gait of a horse is calming. And it helps build confidence.”
Spencer Geissman also rode Saturday. His mom said that thanks to riding horses and other activities at the ranch, Spencer is not so afraid to explore the world anymore.
“Now he enjoys going places, and we can go on vacations,” Annette Geissman said. “And he has a true love of horses. It’s been a real blessing in his life.”
Messages may be left for Bob Sandrick at (330) 721-4060.
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