Aldrich’s memory honored at Stockhands


The Fraternal Order of Eagles #376 in Delaware has partnered with Stockhands Horses for Healing to honor Garth Aldrich’s legacy of selflessness and servitude in the Delaware community.

On Monday, Feb. 27, Lodge #376 presented Stockhands with a memorial plaque for Aldrich, who passed away at the age of 73 in November 2022 after a battle with cancer. In addition to the plaque, which will be displayed in the reception room at Stockhands, the lodge also made a $10,000 donation to Stockhands to fund scholarships and the general expansion of the organization’s programs for developmentally disabled children and adults.

Located at 3788 Olentangy River Road in Delaware, Stockhands is a nonprofit therapeutic riding center with a focus on using equine therapy to assist those with physical, emotional, or developmental disabilities in learning and healing. Aldrich began volunteering at Stockhands two years ago after learning of the organization while volunteering at Lodge #376’s bingo night, which Stockhands has worked now for several years.

“He liked what we do after talking about it at bingo, and he decided he wanted to come out and see it,” Stockhands co-founder Tim Funk told The Gazette.

The foundation of Stockhands’ mission carried personal intrigue for Aldrich, who has a son with disabilities, and also fell in line with the decades of service he’d already put forth in the community. For more than 30 years, Aldrich served as a coach for the Delaware Special Olympics, and he also worked with the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

“He was a member of the Eagles for over 50 years, and that’s one thing they pride themselves on, giving back to the community,” Funk said. “Their motto is kind of ‘people helping people,’ and Garth took that to heart.”

At Stockhands, Aldrich helped groom and tack horses for lessons and would also lead horses or serve as a sidewalker during lessons. “He didn’t have a whole lot of horse experience, but he had a lot of interaction and experience with the kids,” Funk said.

During his time volunteering at Stockhands, Aldrich even found a little therapy of his own as he battled cancer treatment. In particular, he grew rather fond of one horse, named Athena, and made it a point to spend time with her even as his condition worsened.

“When he was going through his chemotherapy, he would stop here at the barn on his way home from treatment just so he could see Athena and love on her a little bit,” Funk said. “At Garth’s funeral, we actually took Athena to the cemetery to be part of his ceremony.”

Funk equated the news of Aldrich’s passing to losing a member of his own family given the relationships that are forged at Stockhands.

“Here at Stockhands, once you start volunteering, you become part of our family,” he said. “So it was like us losing a family member. A lot of our volunteers, when Garth was at home on hospice care, we would run over and sit with him and talk to him and help them out. … Once you walk through our doors, you’re family whether you like it or not.”

Funk went on to say of Aldrich, “He had a huge heart and he gave 100% of himself.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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