Paul Huttlin was enjoying another day providing memorable experiences to kids with disabilities at Recreation Unlimited when he got the call.
“Get to the horseback riding area right away,” he was told. “There’s something you need to see.”
When Huttlin arrived, he saw his son, Matt—who was born with spina bifida and who, until that day, was terrified of animals—happily riding horseback. It was a moment that illustrated Recreation Unlimited’s ability to help guests overcome fear and break down barriers.
“For whatever reason, he overcame his fears that day and got up on that horse, something he never would have done prior to that,” says Huttlin, executive director and CEO of the not-for-profit organization. “That illustrates the experience that thousands of campers have had. When I got here 21 years ago, I pulled everyone aside and said, ‘We’re here for one reason—the benefit of the camper. That’s what should drive all of our decisions.”
His son passed away not long after that experience, but for Huttlin, the memory of that moment endures.
Operating as a business
Since 1958, individuals with disabilities have flocked to the 195-acre campground to take advantage of sports, recreation and educational opportunities. Its mission hasn’t changed in 60 years, and neither has the importance of running the organization like a business.
“Funders want to donate to successful organizations,” Huttlin says. “If you don’t operate as a business and make sure your financials, staffing and facilities are squared away, it’s going to be very difficult to fulfill your mission.”
Huntington has played a key role in that effort, with executives like Harry Farver, executive vice president at Huntington, serving on the board, and by sponsoring events, including a weekend camp for children with autism each fall.
Above and beyond
A $5.5 million capital campaign launched in 2009 brought needed facility upgrades and positioned Recreation Unlimited for many more years of happy campers, as Huttlin and his team continue to go above and beyond.
“We want campers, families, guests, donors and volunteers to say, ‘Wow, this is a beautiful facility,’” Huttlin says. “If you can’t take care of your facility, how can you take care of the kids?”
About the organization
Name: Recreation Unlimited
City: Ashley, Ohio
Phone: (740) 548-7006
Mission: Provide a quality, safe, fun and healthy environment for sports, recreation and education for individuals with disabilities and health concerns.
How you can help
Volunteers are needed in all areas, including helping with camps or with facility projects including landscaping, painting and trail maintenance.