The Making of a Donkey Wedding

March 28, 2019

The early response to our Donkey Wedding fundraiser has been incredible! This unique and quirky concept has piqued the interest and enthusiasm of the community. In today’s Donkeys-for-Good blog series, we thought that we would share some of the behind the scene details that led to the creation of this event.

Latham’s beloved and innovative donkey therapy (or Asinotherapy) program was launched nearly a decade ago. Individuals learn to care for and lead the donkeys as part of our vocational services and supplemental therapeutic programming. Our Development team was tasked with launching a new fundraising initiative to help supplement the cost of caring for and feeding Latham’s six miniature donkeys. Heather Kelsey, Latham’s Director of Development, had this to say about the event:

“The donkeys require regular veterinary care, farrier services, vitamin supplements, and of course hay and bedding. We were asked to launch a fundraising initiative with the goal of raising $25,000 this year. Our wonderfully creative Development Associate Diana Morgan came up with the idea for a “Donkey Wedding” complete with a gift registry where wedding guests and animal lovers could purchase “gifts” like hay and hoof trimming or donate gifts of cash to help the happy couple begin their new life together.

Admittedly, I was not instantly sold on the idea. I was worried that it was a little too silly, but I soon realized that it was the silliness that made the idea brilliant. Once we embraced the concept, the fun really began. Sheri Peterson, Executive and Development Assistant coined the fabulous “Esther and Esau are Getting Hitched” at an early planning meeting. Board member and Latham parent, Matt McCleery suggested the beautiful Taylor-Bray Farm as a venue. Nancy Bischoff, former pastor of Chatham’s First United Methodist Church, and former Latham Board member agreed to officiate. We convened an incredible Donkey Wedding planning committee comprised of Latham Board members Chris Gillstrom and Bonnie Ellis, Latham family member, Jo-Ellen Erickson, and photographer Denise Pressman of Fleeting Moments Photography. The committee is staffed by me, Diana Morgan and Dawn Dinnan, Director of Communications.

To introduce the donkeys, and to create a narrative that would eventually lead to Esther and Esau’s engagement, we launched a blog series. Each “Meet the Donkeys” blog post featured a personal interview with a Latham donkey where they shared anecdotes from their lives at Latham, their hobbies and even their pet peeves. Moonbeam the donkey is from Vermont and came to Latham to pursue a life with deeper purpose. Angus has a discerning palate and likes a good ear brushing. Jake is a native Cape Codder who tells a great story and feels no resentment toward summer tourists. His good friend Curley, handsome and a gifted athlete, prefers shoulder season and curses the arrival of summer. Curley is also in love with Esther, the only female donkey or ”Jennie”, who only has eyes for Esau.

Readers of the blog followed Esther and Esau’s love story and on Valentine’s Day, Esau proposed to Esther and plans for the wedding ensued.”

Next week, stay tuned for the official wedding invitation which will highlight exciting details of the wedding ceremony and reception. For more information on sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets and view their gift registry visit: https://www.lathamcenters.org/donkeys-for-good/.

Video Caption: Even the baby lambs at Taylor-Bray farm are jumping for joy!

Photo Caption: Latham staff mapping out the tent location for the upcoming Donkey Wedding at Taylor-Bray Farm and Denise Pressman of Fleeting Moments Photography captures some footage for a recent PSA about Latham’s Donkey Wedding.