AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – It’s been a year since a fire broke out at Aiken Equine Rescue, destroying their barn and injuring several horses.

“We lost all of our medical supplies, we lost everything, we almost lost a horse, I almost lost my wife. My wife went in to the stall burning and got the pony out herself,” said Jim Rhodes, President of Equine Rescue of Aiken.

“When that barn burned down, it stopped us from dealing with any critically ill horses, because horses have to have medical care, and so we had no facility, we had no shelters, so we couldn’t help them,” said Judith Mittino, Director of Capital Campaign.

The non-profit organizations mission is to recue horses who have been abused or neglected to find a new purpose for off-the-track thoroughbreds, giving them a second chance at a new life.

“This is a horse rescue facility. Our main purpose is not to take horses in and keep them. Our main purpose is to take horses in, get them ready for a second chance, have them get adopted out and we’ve been very successful at that,” said Mittino.

Now, with the help of the community and volunteers, the rescue is getting a second chance of its own.

“We had volunteers that were out here cutting the grass, cleaning up after the horses, now our volunteers are doing everything , they’re doing all the legwork, they’re doing the administrative end of it, they’re doing the capital campaign, the fundraising,” said Rhodes.

People from around the community and volunteers gathered at the rescue to celebrate the groundbreaking of their new barn.

“We’ve got a contract with a local builder that’s going to be building our barn bigger and better to where we can help more and do more for the community and our programming,” said Rhodes.

The folks at Aiken Equine Rescue are thankful for everyone that has helped them recover from their tragedy.

“I was ecstatic. I was more than ecstatic. It is a dream come true for us. It’s a dream come true to know we have a place to help animals and a place for our programs,” said Mittino.

The work is still going for the rescue and they still need help with their barn fundraiser.

“We’ve raised about $87,000, which is pretty good since we haven’t made a giant stride forward as far as the Capital Campaign is concerned. This is the start of the capital campaign” said Mittino.

The groundbreaking of the new barn is the start of a new chapter for Aiken Equine Rescue and with the help of the community and volunteers they’re getting a second chance to keep helping others.