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One Heart Equestrian Therapy creates endowment fund in memory of director's daughter

Kylee Mullen
Ames Tribune
One Heart equestrian center hopes a new endowment fund will help ensure the organization's programming in the future in Story County.

One Heart Equestrian Therapy has created its first endowment fund to honor the memory of Ames resident Clara Kathleen "Logi" Lager. 

Logi, 31, was a lifelong volunteer of the organization which provides therapeutic riding services to children and adults with a variety of physical and intellectual abilities — though "she was sometimes a conscripted volunteer," joked her mother Kris Lager, who is also the One Heart founder and director. Logi died July 4. 

Lager said the endowment is being created in Logi's honor in response to the support and donations directed to One Heart over the past few months. She hopes the fund would have made her daughter proud. 

"I think she would have appreciated that it adds permanency to One Heart," Lager said. "Logi, herself, was one of the most 'peoplely' people I know. She had an innate sense of social justice, helping those who were underserved and those who were marginalized, and that's where her interests and heart was. 

"One Heart supports so many people who are dealing with very complex issues, either social, health-related or physical, and she'd seen how it has helped people over the years. She was still frequently volunteering with us, so I'd like to think it was something she'd be very supportive of."

The family also is looking to make a donation in memorial of Logi to a local nonprofit serving women in urgent need. 

One Heart Equestrian Therapy will create an endowment fund to honor the memory of Ames resident Clara Kathleen "Logi" Lager, who died July 4.

'There are no words,' so the community responds by sending donations

Logi, who was born Aug. 28, 1988, in Harghita County, Romania, was adopted by Kris Lager and her husband, Kelly, when she was 2 years and 10 months old. A few years later, she was joined by a three-year-old sister, Lucy, who was also adopted from a Romanian orphanage.

Lucy, Lager said, was born with special needs, and was part of the inspiration behind founding One Heart. As a result, both girls grew up surrounded by the horses and clients in the program. 

"When you're a mom and you've got to go meet with the fair board, you take your kids," she said. "When you're going to the tack store, you take your kids. Whether I was talking to people or working with the horses, they were with me. They were at my side."

Lager describes herself as a 'horsey' person, and also says neither of her daughters truly shared that particular passion. However, "they were still quite young," when the organization was founded, "so they would go where I would go."

But while Logi was not head over heels for the horses like her mother, she was still very dedicated and caring toward those the program serves. 

One of Lager's favorite memories of Logi at One Heart is of when a little girl with hearing impairments came to ride. 

"Logi went to the library, checked out all these books, and taught herself American Sign Language so that she could walk around the arena, and when the instructor would give instructions, Logi would sign them," Lager said. "The little girl was also just learning how to sign, so Logi and she kind of learned it together."

Logi later went on to graduate from Nevada High School in 2007, and then earned an associate's degree from DMACC in 2012 and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Iowa State University in 2014.

Last fall, Lager added, Logi visited One Heart while that same client she had once learned American Sign Language for, now a young woman, was riding, so they could sign together again. 

When Logi died in July, many in the community felt the loss. 

"We've had so many people write to us that there are no words," Lager said. "So people have been shocked, and they can find no words, but with the compassionate cards have come money to direct to something in memory of Logi."

Some funds have been given directly to the family and will "go toward something that is very much in Logi's strong interests in caring for women in urgent need." Other donations were directed toward One Heart and will be used to create the endowment fund. 

A One Heart Equestrian Therapy participant connects with a horse. The organization hopes an endowment will help ensure its programming's permanency in the community.

Honoring Logi's memory by ensuring future growth

Lager said donors to One Heart have been asking about a potential endowment fund for years, and when the organization started to receive donations in Logi's memory, it felt like a great way to honor her daughter. 

Especially as the organization enters its 20th year of putting riders up and offering services to clients throughout Story County and the state of Iowa. 

"The donations we received really inspired us to even think about the endowment," Lager said. "It just seems like it carries a purpose. It adds some permanence, and to honor her name, it just seemed fitting."

The endowment, which is an investment fund established by a foundation that makes consistent withdrawals from invested capital, will "support the programming of One Heart" and assist the organization achieve future growth.

"If we have expansions we want to do, if we need start-up funding for a particular program or piece of equipment, we might look at the interest generated by endowment for those types of things," Lager said. 

It could also potentially be used for emergency funding, something the coronavirus pandemic has made more vital for organizations to have available.

Anyone who would like to contribute toward the endowment fund in honor of Logi and to support One Heart's mission can do so by sending a check designated for the endowment to One Heart Equestrian Therapy, 67826 Lincoln Highway, Colo, Iowa 50056. Donations can also be made online at www.onehearthorses.org/donate