Staff Report

The Vikings of Solvang have donated an $8,000 LiteGait to a medical therapy program for young patients in Buellton and Lompoc. 

The LiteGait is specialized equipment to help children and young adults improve their mobility. It is a large frame with a suspended harness that partially bears the patient’s weight. Without it, therapists have a difficult time working safely with people who are heavier than 100 pounds.

The California Children’s Services Medical Therapy Program provides physical therapy and occupational therapy services for local residents from birth to 21 years of age who have eligible physical disabilities. The program is a joint effort of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the California Department of Health Care Services. It has medical therapy units in Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria.

A spokeswoman said the program has no budget for capital expenses this large, and the LiteGait equipment “creates an ideal environment to treat a wide range of impairments and functional levels.”

“Since the Vikings were founded in 1974, we have contributed more than $3 million to help fulfill the medically related needs of qualified people and organizations in Santa Barbara County, and this year we had $90,000 available to carry on that mission,” said Vikings Chief Richard Kline. “Especially during a pandemic, we’re grateful that we can help.”

The Vikings of Solvang are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works solely on the strength of tax-deductible donations from Vikings members and others in the community. About $1 million of the group’s philanthropy has been given to individuals. The other $2 million has been donated to organizations such as local senior centers or spent on the Vikings’ annual Christmas party for special-needs children and their teachers in northern Santa Barbara County.

Members pay for all the group’s operating costs, so every penny donated goes directly to helping someone. Each donation is invested in a carefully managed endowment fund, which has allowed the group to maximize each dollar donated by earning interest on it. Only a portion of the interest from the endowment, not the principal, can be spent each year, so donations to the fund help in perpetuity.

Vikings grants have helped local people build wheelchair ramps, get prosthetic limbs, buy disabled-accessible vehicles, pay their insurance deductibles and fulfill many other needs.

To apply for a grant from the Vikings, donate to the group’s endowment fund, or get other information, go to or contact Chief Richard Kline at or 213-716-1111.