“Riding is better than the letter U!” says Daniel, a 5 year old adaptive rider. It takes a lot to be better than the letter of the week in preschool so we know this is very high praise. Last spring Daniel was in the first child-only session of Horses for Healing (H4H), a program for individuals living with cancer. He enjoyed his time with the horses and with program coordinator Kelly so much, that he started riding lessons as soon as his H4H session finished.
In March 2016, Daniel was diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer called Medulloblastoma. He had his first brain surgery within days of his diagnosis and spent over 150 nights at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). His treatments included high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. Daniel’s parents, Lisa and Stuart, split their time between CHOP with Daniel and at home in Glen Ridge with their older son Ryan helping with homework and getting him to ice hockey practice.
Daniel is currently in remission and his prognosis is positive. Due to all of the surgeries and treatments he had at such a young age, Daniel needed to re-learn how to talk, walk and eat. Daniel’s physical therapist strongly recommended horseback riding as an activity to help Daniel build core strength and balance. Lisa recalls that the therapist “singled out Mane Stream as providing excellent services.”
While researching Mane Stream they found our Horses for Healing program information and hoped it would be a good fit. They appreciated that, thanks to our generous donors, the program is free. Daniel and his preschool classmate Katelyn (also a cancer survivor) were the first two participants in our kid’s version of H4H.
Daniel was definitely hesitant about the horses before coming to the farm for the first time since he had never been around them before. His stem cell transplants meant he couldn’t go near animals while in treatment. Now, as his dad says, “he loves coming to the farm and literally counts the days until his next lesson.”
Daniel is not able to participate in many traditional recreational sports. Riding at Mane Stream provides Daniel with a safe physical activity and he can participate in a sport just like his friends do.
Daniel, like many of our riders and clients, continues to receive physical, occupational and speech-language therapy weekly. According to his dad, adding weekly riding lessons has a positive impact. “Daniel’s balance has definitely improved. And his ability to follow directions is much better than it used to be.” These are great examples of how spending time on a Mane Stream horse translates to concrete benefits in everyday life. Riding programs at Mane Stream are designed to adapt to the rider’s abilities and ensure the best possible experiences and outcomes.
You are key to making sure that Daniel and all of the children and adults with special needs in Mane Stream’s therapy and riding programs are able to reach their goals, have fun, learn a new skill and improve their strength, balance and coordination.
Your gift to Mane Stream will:
Buy food and bedding for the horses
Train our volunteers and staff
Keep our horses healthy and happy
Provide memorable experiences for children of all abilities at summer camp
Maintain our beautiful 12-acre farm
Give joy and confidence to over 250 riders and clients!
Thank you for helping Mane Stream change lives – one person at a time. Have a wonderful holiday season.
Trish Hegeman, Executive Director
P.S. Did you know that Mane Stream hosts field trips for schools and scout troops, outings for adults with dementia and programs for veterans and children living with grief? Find out more at www.manestreamnj.org or on Facebook.