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Meet Board Member, Teresa Hukari

By May 3, 2021News, Home page, Therapy

Teresa HukariToday, we have the privilege and honor of sharing Teresa’s incredible story. Originally from Hood River, Oregon, Teresa has always had an affinity for the outdoors. She loves a daring adventure. For about 13 years, Teresa found herself between San Diego and the Bay Area for work. And while the job was great, it didn’t fulfill her sense of adventure. She longed for recreation right out her backdoor, as she experiences in Hood River. 

She also yearned to clip into her skis, like her childhood days. This is where Ketchum filled the void. Teresa took a job with Smith, in the Wood River Valley, and quickly found herself enjoying nature as she wanted. Fast forward approximately five years: in the blink of an eye, life — as she knew it — quickly changed.

Teresa was skiing with some friends when she ended up in a freak accident. It left her paralyzed. It was March 4th, 2006 — the date remains vivid. She was first hospitalized in Boise for initial treatments, then transferred to Craig Hospital in Colorado for targeted care and rehab. Once released, she spent the next three years in Ketchum, and then split her time between family and Ketchum, ultimately making the move back to Hood River, Oregon.

At the time, Hood River wasn’t necessarily where she wanted to land, but Teresa will tell you herself, it made the most sense. She now has her own home that is fully accessible as well as a room for her caregiver. Because of everything she’s endured, Teresa’s story is one of hope and inspiration. We were deeply moved when she shared it with us.

Teresa joined Swiftsure in November 2006, at the time Swiftsure was still its former name — Sagebrush. While Teresa was initially skeptical of the power of Equine Therapy, another board member, Elizabeth, encouraged her to give it a try.  According to Teresa, the thought of sitting on top of a horse was difficult to imagine. But once her doubt vanished, it proved to be just what she needed. For her first few sessions at the ranch, Teresa came weekly. But, because of various moves and changes in her life, riding with us became a bit more erratic. However, when she’s in town, she tries to join any lesson she can! Unfortunately, because of COVID, the last time we’ve seen Teresa riding was in 2019. We know she’ll be back soon, though. 

We took a minute to ask about her goals as a Swiftsure board member. She noted that she brings true humility to the membership of the board. While she may not have the deepest pockets, she does have one of the deepest understandings of Swiftsure’s impact. She is a user of Swiftsure’s services, a beneficiary of their work, and knows — first-hand — what it’s like to be an able-bodied person that has endured extreme challenges. She has learned how to adapt and has found Swiftsure to be a profound part of the transition. This is immensely helpful for our board, especially when it comes to making decisions.

Finally, we asked Teresa to share the first three words that come to mind when thinking about Swiftsure. She mentioned Service – Professionalism – Heart. If someone is looking for a place or cause to contribute to (time, money, etc.) there is no shortage or need in the world. Swiftsure continues to stretch its resources to get the most out of what they have. The staff goes above and beyond and are truly making magic happen. 

We can’t thank Teresa enough for taking the time to sit down and chat with us. It was such a pleasure to learn about her journey, firsthand. We also can’t wait to see her back at the ranch with her ear-to-ear smile!