Local pediatric center launches $4.5 million capital campaign

Harper Ho
York Dispatch

After the pandemic pushed plans back a year, an East Manchester Township pediatric therapy center has recently launched a $4.5 million capital campaign — and organizers say funds will go toward securing the nonprofit's future.

Leg Up Farm, located at 4880 N Sherman St., kicked off fundraising publicly in April and has since raised more than $1.6 million toward a goal of $4.5 million by the end of June, according to the organization. 

Sisters Hailey, 12, and Peyton Kile, 10, right, of Mount Wolf, lead horses to a riding area at Leg Up Farm Monday, May 24, 2021. The girls were taking part in the pediatric therapy center's recreational horseback riding. Bill Kalina photo

"We want to make sure that the legacy of Leg Up Farm lives on forever, and the easiest way to do that is to create some breathing room with our finances," said Chief Development Officer Jennifer Hitz. "If we could do that for Leg Up Farm, it would just mean so much for the organization and the years ahead."

Funds will be spent on capital improvements and reducing the center's liabilities according to Leg Up. One million dollars will be used for upgrades — such as on pastures and fields, lighting and HVAC, interior enhancements and to modernize technology — and $3.5 million pumped into debt.

Coulson Rome, 5, of Manchester Borough, poses with his family, siblings Maszie, 14, and Chancellor, 11; and parents Anna and Michael, at Leg Up Farm during a visit there Monday, May 24, 2021. Coulson, who has Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, is a client at the pediatric therapy center. Bill Kalina photo

"With this campaign, we're looking to pay off that initial mortgage we had to take out in order to open Leg Up Farm, and then we're also doing some strategic capital projects in addition to that to bolster the building and be able to realize some additional cost savings from that," she said. 

Hitz said an annual savings of more than $240,000 a year could be placed into programs and services to further improve the  experience  for clients such as 5-year-old Coulson Rome, who gets physical and occupational therapy at Leg Up.

'Very blessed': Coulson's mother, Anna Rome, said her family would be in big trouble without the nonprofit.

Coulson Rome, 5, his brother Chancellor, 11, and father Michael, work a gas pump in Matthew's Town at Leg Up Farm during a visit there Monday, May 24, 2021. Coulson, who has Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, is a client at the pediatric therapy center. Bill Kalina photo

"If we did not have Leg Up Farm, Coulson certainly would not be where he is today. He would not be able to do the skills, and he wouldn't have the confidence," she said, adding "and he loves being here."

"He is happy here. As a parent I feel super confident that my kid is receiving quality care," Anna Rome said.

A friend had told Rome about Leg Up Farm several years ago, and the rest has been history, she said. Coulson, who suffers from a condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, was using a wheelchair before undergoing surgery last year, Rome said. But in less than six months, because of the surgery and services at Leg up, the 5-year-old now walks with crutches, and that's unbelievable, his mother said. 

Kelly Kile of Mount Wolf, watches her daughter Hailey, 12, tack up a horse before riding at Leg Up Farm Monday, May 24, 2021. The pediatric therapy center offers recreational horseback riding. Bill Kalina photo

"The level of skill and love for what they do. We feel very blessed to be here," she said. "He doesn't see it as a medical treatment. He's just coming to play with his friend (therapist), and I love that." 

Founder Louie Castriota opened Leg Up Farm in 2010 with intentions to be the ultimate therapy center for kids with special needs in York County, Hitz said. This dream is coming to fruition, as the center has provided 125,000 pediatric therapy appointments to children with special needs and their families, she said.

Savannah Oldhouser, 5, of Springettsbury Township, works with therapist Kayla Muff in Mathew's Town at Leg Up Farm Monday, May 24, 2021. Savannah, who has Down syndrome, is a client there. Bill Kalina photo

Hitz said about 80% of the nonprofit's clientele pays for  services via Medicaid. 

Pushed back: The capital campaign was supposed to start in April 2020 but got postponed until now because of COVID. 

"I think for us, it was really — you know — coming upon our 10th anniversary, realizing that we have served over 13,000 children and really wanting to do something that will catapult us into the future," Hitz said. 

Coulson Rome, 5, of Manchester Borough, makes his way along a hallway to Mathew's Town at Leg Up Farm during a visit there with his family Monday, May 24, 2021. Coulson, who has Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, is a client at the pediatric therapy center. Bill Kalina photo