Monday, July 12, 2010

The Silken Red Thread Lassoes a Horse…and Puts Kids in the Saddle

Sign commemorating Jacob Beachy, the namesake for Jacob's Fund, at McKenna Farms

Leslie (right), hippotherapy recipient at McKenna Farms

Glenna and Bernie

Back in May, Glenna, our diligent Jacob's Fund Coordinator, had the opportunity to visit McKenna Farms in Dallas, Georgia. It is in this beautiful rural setting that Jacob’s Fund continues to help needy children with disabilities learn basic life skills such as walking and talking, feeding themselves and playing like other children.

A little about Glenna

For those of you who don't know Glenna, she is the loving grandma to Jacob, the fund's namesake. She is a gem and has dedicated countless hours to helping raise awareness and funds for this type of treatment so that children you and I will probably never meet will have the opportunity to lead a more productive life in spite of their disabilities.

Jacob's Fund / A super-quick refresher course

Jacob's Fund is a growing active program of The Red Thread Promise that provides hippotherapy / therapeutic riding to underprivileged young people in the United States who suffer from a variety of health issues including:
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cerebral Vascular Accident (stroke)
  • Developmental Delay
  • Down Syndrome
  • Functional Spinal Curvature (scoliosis)
  • Learning or Language Disabilities
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sensory Processing Disorders
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes. According to the American Hippotherapy Association, this type of therapy is critically acclaimed for its ability to improve muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination, motor development as well as emotional well-being and a laundry list of other benefits.

Back to McKenna Farms

After exchanging many emails and phone calls over the past few years, Glenna was finally able to meet the facility's Founder and Executive Director, Jessica Moore, face-to-face. In Glenna's words, "Jessica's a dynamo. In the space of three minutes, she consulted with therapists, greeted families, and made decisions about the horses. Her compassion and desire to help children came through very clearly in our conversations."

Everyone was eager to meet the horses and visit the place where the magic happens: the riding ring. Jessica led the way to the ring with her son, Aiden, in her arms, accompanied by Glenna, Sarah (Jacob’s mom) and Jacob's sister, Juliet.

Inside the ring they watched Leslie, a four-year-old child who was born with Down syndrome, the most common genetic cause of severe learning disabilities in children. She’s been coming to McKenna Farms for three years and in that time she’s had tremendous gains in all developmental areas attributed to her work on her favorite horse, Jasmine.

Leslie riding her favorite horse, Jasmine

Pausing to answer questions with her therapist

She looked darling in her riding helmet as she rode atop the horse while her therapist walked alongside her. Occasionally, her therapist stopped the horse to allow Leslie to review words for colors and pause before a change of pace on the horse. After the questions were answered, Leslie resumed riding, smiling with satisfaction from her own sense of accomplishment and the words of acknowledgement from the therapist. It is through exercises like this that Leslie's cognitive ability as well as her nerve and muscle function are stimulated.

The scholarships

This sweet little girl, who is a joy to all around her, has benefited from Jacob’s Fund in the past. Due to Jacob's Fund's rotating scholarship, it is it’s her turn again. Why rotate the scholarships? Because nearly 90 percent of the children at McKenna Farms are Medicaid patients with little to no financial means for this type of therapy. By rotating the scholarships among the children most in need at McKenna Farms, each has the opportunity for additional sessions.

Your gift to a child

The Red Thread Promise feels blessed that we have been able to help ten children with Jacob’s Fund monies, but it’s apparent from our conversation with Jessica that so much more is needed. Please consider a gift to Jacob’s Fund to help children like Leslie receive therapy at McKenna Farms, a life-changing gift that enables children to function in their daily lives.

Here’s what your gift can mean:

  • $180 pays for one hippotherapy session
  • $100 covers barn fees for one horse for a month
  • $90, combined with an equal gift, provides one session for a child
  • $25 covers one week’s barn fees for one horse

May 21, 2010 would have been Jacob's 6th birthday. He adored his horse and therapists at McKenna Farms. A memorial gift of $60 will help another child enjoy the same great experience. (Read more about Jacob's experience at McKenna Farms in the next post.)

Your tax deductible gift can be made through PayPal (button on the right) or by sending a check to:

The Red Thread Promise

4027 Dauphine Street

New Orleans, LA 70117

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