Bogota Resident and Grandchildren Will Join Somerset County Wheelchair Walk

Rich Schenn, left, accompanying India in the wheelchair walk at last year's Miles for Matheny. Walking along with them were, from left, Berk
Rich Schenn, left, accompanying India in the wheelchair walk at last year's Miles for Matheny. Walking along with them were, from left, Berk
Rich Schwenn, a resident of Bogota, has been volunteering for 14 years at Mane Stream, an Oldwick-based organization that provides adaptive horsemanship and equine-assisted therapies for children and adults with special needs. The Matheny Medical and Educational Center, a special hospital and educational facility in Peapack for children and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities, brings students and adults to Main Stream twice a year for spring and fall therapy sessions. About five years ago, Schwenn met Matheny student India Jones. "I sometimes act like a clown," he confesses, "and India has a tendency to laugh very hard." The chemistry between the two was instantaneous, and a couple of Matheny staff members suggested that Schwenn come to Matheny for a visit.

"I had noticed in some of the Matheny literature," he says, "that Matheny encouraged, 'friendly visits to a particular student', so I started coming about once a month to visit with India. In addition, I try to be there on special days such as Christmas and her birthday." Peapack, in Somerset County, is about an hour's drive from Bogota, but Schwenn also attends Matheny events such as the prom, held in Randolph, and Miles for Matheny, the annual fundraiser and community event held in downtown Peapack.

At this year's Miles for Matheny, on June 1, Schwenn will be a walking partner for India in the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk and will be accompanied by his 15-year-old grandson Nicholas and 12-year-old granddaughter Olivia, who will be making the trip from Manahawkin. "They've heard about India," he says, "and they've seen photos." It's important, he adds, for his grandchildren "to be in this environment, to learn that it's not all about 'you'." As for his connection to Matheny, Schwenn says that "words cannot describe this experience. It's an atmosphere that enriches me."

For more information about Miles for Matheny, log onto www.milesformatheny.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260. All funds raised will help support the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, where more than 800 of New Jersey's kids, teens and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities  have access to the best medical, dental and therapy care possible. Major Miles sponsors are: the Poses Family Foundation, Partlow Insurance, Peapack-Gladstone Bank, Porzio Bromberg & Newman PC Attorneys at Law, BP Fueling Communities, Delta Dental of New Jersey, Inc., WCBS-TV and WCBS Newsradio 880.-

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