During the holiday season, it is important embrace the ideas of selflessness and gratitude more than ever. However, there are also those who deserve recognition for their selfless spirit and contributions to the community all year round. One such person is Pawling resident Danny Blumberg. Through his work with family-owned Rock Hill Farm, Blumberg devotes much of his time to animal therapy programs to help those in need, and using his own history of hardship to inspire others.
Blumberg grew up on his family’s Rock Hill Farm in Brewster, graduating from Brewster High School in 2009. He played Division 1 golf while a student at Radford University in Virginia. His goal at the time was to enter law enforcement and become an FBI agent. After graduation, he worked as an equestrian trainer at the Green Chimneys Farm and Wildlife Center in Brewster, which helps children with emotional and developmental problems. However, an unforeseeable event would soon radically change the course of his life.
In June 2014, Danny Blumberg was helping on his parents’ farm, routinely stringing wire to fix a bovine enclosure. In a tragic turn of events, the wire snapped and recoiled, causing severe damage to the cornea of his right eye. He endured an eight-hour trauma surgery followed by a cornea transplant and a retina reattachment. The hardship would not end there; Blumberg was also stricken with two major infections resulting in further hospitalization. At the end of the experience, he had a complete loss of vision in his right eye. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he says. “It was a stomach punch that took away every opportunity with law enforcement. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.”
With a career in law enforcement no longer an option, Blumberg began the search for a new purpose. He soon started a career in financial services with True North Financial Solutions in White Plains, NY, where he handles insurance, investments, and retirement planning, and assists clients with other financial concerns. “I fell in love with it, and I really believe in what we do,” he says. “We operate using a relationship-based model, and I like it that way. I get to share my story with my clients, and I still get to protect people, just in a different way.”
In addition to his new profession, Danny Blumberg began to pursue another passion by using the animals of Rock Hill Farm for a number of therapeutic programs. The farm is home to more than 30 animals, including a miniature petting zoo with pot bellied pigs, rabbits, donkeys, and miniature horses, as well as oxen and their most impressive residents, ten 2,500-pound Belgian draft horses. Danny Blumberg, along with his father, John, and the rest of their family have become active not only in Pawling, but in many surrounding communities.
Blumberg uses the animals from Rock Hill Farm in more than 30 events each year for the benefit of children with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly. Children are always welcome at the farm to interact with the animals, and the enormous Draft Horses are a part of many community celebrations. The team takes part in the Yorktown Grange Fair, The Relay for Life event at the Patterson Fire House, fall festivals, parades, and even provides sleigh rides for children during the winter months and helps to deliver Santa to holiday gatherings. Blumberg particularly enjoys using the animals for their therapeutic merits to help people with disabilities, citing his own as an inspiration for his work. “They say everything happens for a reason; now I’m helping more people than I ever have before,” he says. He is also involved with the Hudson Valley Cerebral Palsy Association and Vet to Vet USA and is the proud owner of a certified stud dog for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
As Christmas approaches, Danny Blumberg and his father are also preparing to continue a charitable effort that has become a tradition in Pawling. Throughout December, he has been assembling presents donated by friends and clients for all ages. (He collected more than 300 gifts last year.) On Christmas morning, the Blumberg family loads up a wagon led by the team of sleigh bell adorned Belgian Draft Horses to deliver presents throughout Pawling. “We bring a present to every house, car, and person we see. There’s no reason for it other than we want to make Christmas more special for people,” he says.
As he channels personal hardship into lending a hand to people in need, Danny Blumberg exemplifies a spirit of generous self-giving that has its own special reward. “Sometimes we’re tired,” he explains, “and it’s a lot of work, but when you get to see the smile on the face of a child with a disability driving a horse, it’s all worth it.”
Anyone who is interested in learning more about Rock Hill Farm and the therapeutic animal programs may contact Danny Blumberg at DJBlumberg15@gmail.com.