Mary Shunk Named 2017 Unsung Hero Award Winner

MaryShunk LRMary Shunk, Director of The Retreat at Beckleysville, has been selected to receive the 2017 Joe Kelly Unsung Hero Award. Presented annually by the Board of Directors of the Maryland Million Ltd., this award honors the memory of Joe Kelly and celebrates important characteristics that are valuable but often unrewarded. It recognizes honesty, hard work and humility - qualities which serve as inspiration to others.

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” Douglas Adams

Mary Shunk, who is an accomplished equestrian herself, is the founder and director of The Retreat at Beckleysville in Hampstead. Mary's passion for enriching lives through horseback riding has made The Retreat what it is today. She is a Certified Advanced Instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International, co-director of Equestrian Sports for Maryland Special Olympics, and Head Instructor with 4-H Therapeutic Riding of Carroll County.

“It is truly a well-deserved honor for Mary to be awarded the Joe Kelly Maryland Million Unsung Hero Award,” says Kitsi Christmas, president of Maryland Council of Equestrian Therapies (MCET). “She was one of the founding members of MCET, and was president for many years and, along with Rene Dixon, founded the Maryland Challenge Equestrian Trials. Mary always has a smile on her face and is there to help everybody.”

The Retreat at Beckleysville offers recreational, competitive, and therapeutic riding for people of all ages and abilities in a safe environment with minimal cost. Riders come from all over Maryland and Pennsylvania to enjoy the warm and inviting atmosphere and the enriching approach of trained volunteers.

Mary, who has been teaching riding for 45 years, has rescued most of the horses at The Retreat and trains them for the therapeutic riding program.

“We are also dedicated to preserving the health and longevity of horses who have retired from our therapeutic program and others,” says Mary. “Long after they are able to support our riders, they are nurtured, loved, and cared for by adults and children who continue to learn from them.”