YORK COUNTY — The founder and chairman of a nonprofit therapy center for people up to the age of 21 with special needs is the recipient of the Rite Aid KIDSCHAMP Award, the pharmacy announced Wednesday in a press release.
In addition to the award, Louie Castriota, who created Leg Up Farm in 2010 to serve the special needs community, received a $10,000 donation to Leg Up Farm from the Rite Aid Foundation, and $500 in Rite Aid gift cards at a special ceremony held at the York farm.
Leg Up Farm is a nonprofit therapy center for infants, children, adolescents and young adults up to the age of 21 with special needs. The center combines a state-of-the-art medical setting with a child-friendly environment that caters to both children and their families. Leg Up Farm provides comprehensive therapies all under one roof by bringing therapists of different specialties together to create customized programs with a team approach.
The Rite Aid Foundation created the KIDCHAMP Award in 2017 to recognize individuals in communities served by Rite Aid. Winners have made a meaningful difference in the lives of youth by advocating for their health and wellbeing, championing education and academic growth plus creating safe environments for children and teens to live and grow.
Castriota is the fifth recipient to receive the award.
“Louie embodies what it means to be a champion for kids with special needs,” said Rite Aid COO and Rite Aid Foundation board member Bryan Everett in a press release. “He not only recognized gaps in the availability and affordability of services in the community, but also identified a solution and worked nonstop to make it a reality. Thanks to Louie’s drive and ambition, he has created a therapy center that is unlike any other in the country, resulting in thousands of children having a chance for better lives and brighter futures.”
Castriota and his wife, Laurie, first had the idea to open Leg Up Farm as a therapeutic riding center in 1997, merging their love of animals and children. Six months after their vision came to fruition, their daughter Brooke, was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, which causes both cognitive and motor function delays.
As they searched for the best treatment options for Brooke, the Castriotas found services spread-out and lacking in integration and convenience. That prompted them to significantly widen their vision for Leg Up Farm and create a facility that was unlike any in the nation.
Castriota officially opened Leg Up Farm in 2010, raising more than $10 million in funding through a combination of private contributions, public fundraising events, and federal, state and foundation grants. Leg Up Farm is the only facility in the country to provide physical, occupational, speech, and aquatic therapy, counseling, therapeutic horseback riding, nutritional, education and recreational programming all under one roof.
Since opening its doors, Leg Up Farm has served more than 2,700 children with special needs and their families.
“I am truly honored to receive the KIDCHAMP Award and I’d like to thank The Rite Aid Foundation and KidCents for supporting our efforts to provide life-changing services to children impacted by special needs and their families,” said Castriota. “Providing a comprehensive array of services in a convenient, affordable and easily accessible location is critical to improving the overall health and wellbeing of the children we serve. At Leg Up Farm, we give kids the courage to dream. We can’t thank The Rite Aid Foundation enough for helping us make those dreams come true.”