Men of Style
For Susquehanna Style’s 2017 Men of Style, business is good—meaning that the businesses and nonprofits they create and sustain are powerful forces for good. Neighborhoods are revitalized. Children learn and grow. Stories are told. When these Men of Style share their gifts, communities blossom.
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Sharing the Gifts
Louis J. Castriota, Jr.
Leg Up Farm, York
President and CEO
When Louie Castriota and his wife, Laurie, couldn’t find services for their special-needs daughter, he undertook a 13-year journey. Educating donors and rounding up volunteers, he finally opened Leg Up Farm in 2010, a one-of-a-kind, one-stop pediatric therapy facility created from scratch on donated land.
“Honestly, if somebody had handed me the money early on, this probably would not have been as successful,” Castriota says today. “Every day, it was hard, but I knew that Brooke needed Leg Up Farm, and thousands and thousands of children in our area needed Leg Up Farm.”
Leg Up Farm (legupfarm.org) offers a world of therapeutic experiences, including an adaptive movement room for dance, therapeutic horsemanship, and 18 acres of therapy gardens. In the replicated village Matthew’s Town, children practice life skills like shopping, posting mail and navigating busy streets.
The welcoming environment is “part of the therapy,” so children practice challenging skills in fun ways, and parents get more time to spend with their special-needs child’s siblings because they aren’t driving from one doctor’s office to another.
Leg Up Farm’s unique lifespan approach provides services that transition with the child into adulthood. Through its new nonprofit, Able-Services, participants learn screen printing and grow produce in a greenhouse. They sell their goods—the greens, herbs and coffee mugs—at the Leg Up Farmers Market, “working on communication and sales and marketing and all the process of selling to consumers.”
“It’s educational and it’s vocational, but it’s also bringing joy and fulfillment to their lives,” says Castriota. “I think that’s why we’re here.”
During 20 years in marketing and advertising, Castriota sometimes wondered why he was in sales, but the skills learned were invaluable in developing the network of committed donors eager to support the venture and the army of volunteers needed to run Leg Up Farm.
“The impact to our families and our volunteers is a tossup of who is getting more out of that relationship,” says Castriota.
Sometimes, he tells Brooke’s classmates that she inspired Leg Up Farm, and she beams with pride. It’s a moment that always warms his heart, and it’s a feeling he has written into a book, Leg Up: The Courage to Dream.
“We can all look at the challenges in our lives, or we can look at the gifts,” he says. “Brooke is one of those gifts. Because of her, now thousands of other children are benefiting.”