The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 18, 2013

Cancer survivor, wife plan therapeutic riding program

JOHNSTOWN — Frank Kuhar is living proof that if you have a dream you need to hold on to it no matter what obstacles stand in your way.

The 55-year-old Vintondale resident has always had a love of horses and along with his wife, Cindy, wanted to open a place where people could come and ride the horses for therapeutic purposes.

The couple, owners of Dutch Run Stables in Nicktown, were nearing the final planning stages of the project when, in March, Kuhar was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.

“When the word cancer came about, everything came to a stop,” he said. “Everything we were planning went out the door because we had to deal with the cancer.”

Kuhar underwent surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy treatments in Johnstown, but the prognosis was bleak.

“My daughter, Mandy, saw a commercial for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and left the number for me to call,” he said. “I made the call and from that first minute on, it was a new world for me and my family.”

In April, Kuhar traveled to CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Ill., to speak with doctors and begin treatment.

Through traditional treatments of radiation and chemotherapy in conjunction with massage therapy, naturopathic medicine and spiritual care, Kuhar’s most recent screening shows no signs of cancer.

“I consider it a miracle,” he said.

Kuhar is currently undergoing his final eight chemo treatments and continues to get stronger each day.

“Through this whole treatment process I began to realize that this dream doesn’t have to be over and we can still carry on with our plan,” he said.

Now more than ever, Kuhar is determined to open the therapeutic horse riding program for cancer patients and survivors.

“Horses have a calming effect on people, and somehow they know what you are going through,” he said. “They help you forget about everything if only for a few minutes, so we really want to grow this because it makes such a difference.”

There are 12 horses available for the program – two owned

by the Kuhar family and the others by Lee and June Hill, owners of Saddle Rock Ranch in Portage.

“We’re still planning and we’re hoping to find funding to help with the costs,” Kuhar said.

He’s also looking into the steps that need to be taken to have the program receive therapy certification.

The goal is to have it all up and running as soon as possible, but at this point it looks like the grand opening will be held sometime next year.

Kuhar said he’s a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason, and the cancer has served as the catalyst to see this project through so others can be helped.

“Maybe that’s what this journey has been about,” he said.

For more information on the program, call 749-0594 or 472-0775.

Kelly Urban is a general assignment reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

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