More than two years after the search began, the Rainbow Center, a horseback riding program for disabled youngsters, has found a new home.
"This is heaven for us," Rainbow Center President Patricia Redmond said Saturday at the center's opening at Meadowlin farm near Catharpin. The new home has 25 acres, an outdoor riding ring and a large stable that can be used for riding classes during bad weather.
Classes, which provide a form of therapeutic exercise for the physically as well as mentally and emotionally disabled, begin June 23.
Rainbow, which is financed primarily by private donations, will lease the property for $1 a year. The center will pay the real estate taxes on the 25 acres, according to Marilyn Spencer, vice president of Rainbow's board of directors.
Once settled in the new home, Rainbow hopes to expand the program to include disabled adults and to drop the fee for classes.
"We hope this will become a permanent home for them," said Penny Lynch, who owns Meadowlin farm with her husband, developer Samuel A. Linch.
Since its establishment in 1985, the Rainbow Center -- run primarily by volunteers -- had been in the Dale City area on Minnieville Road. About two years ago, Rainbow learned the property, also leased for $1 annually, was going to be sold and that by 1990, the center would need to move.
Last fall the center, which is sponsored by Prince William County's 4-H organization, held its final classes at the Minnieville Road site.
"I said to my husband, 'We can't just let this program fall apart,' " Penny Linch said. This spring the Linches offered their property.
On Saturday, Rainbow student Suzanne Clark, of Lake Ridge, gave a demonstration ride in the outdoor ring. With two instructors on either side and Fran Simmons, a physical therapist who helped establish the program, leading her, Clark guided her horse around the ring.
Clark said she was pleased with the facilities. "It's got more room," she said.
Gloria Bush, whose 9-year-old daughter, Aimee, has been riding with Rainbow since it started, said the program "does a lot to build self-confidence and esteem." Aimee, who has a learning disability, "realizes that even if she has a disability, she can function like everybody else," Bush said.