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take risks: More about Sweetbrier


Sweetbrier, showing the barns and indoor ring on the hill. Those of you who know about Sweetbrier would likely remember my dad as an imposing man. He was tall and muscular, with huge blue eyes and wavy hair. Everywhere he went, he commanded respect, but most people may not realize he wasn’t afraid to take risks, and he could think quickly under pressure. For example, one wintry day Daddy drove me home from school. The roads were icy because it snowed all day. Suddenly, a car was sliding toward us. It would’ve broadsided us, but Daddy thought fast and steered the car off the road, but going around someone’s mailbox to avoid colliding. On another occasion, Daddy drove the old green Chevy van d...
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horses: Growing up at Sweetbrier


A view of Sweetbrier   Some of you may know I grew up at a riding school called Sweetbrier. Do you know how it got that name? The original owner named the farm Sweetbrier because of a variety of roses that flourished there. Residents of  Easton, the farm’s location, said people came from miles around to see those gorgeous flowers. But, if you weren’t a fan of flowers, maybe you came to Sweetbrier to visit with the horses. There were all shapes and sizes of horses and ponies because we taught children and adults at the magical place called Sweetbrier. Did you know, even the Budweiser Clydesdales came to visit when the Barnum Festival was in town. Generally, nine of the huge horses stayed with...
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Disability: A miracle for Aldrin

What if you were born with a horrible, painful disability that made walking practically impossible? Little eleven-year-old Aldrin was born in the Philippines with severely deformed legs. Was there any hope for him to have a normal life? Things looked bleak for little Aldrin, but the doctors from Tim Tebow’s Cure Foundation had experience in surgically fixing the Aldrin’s disability.  This very complex procedure involved correcting Aldrin’s spinal curvature, and the position  of the bones and tendons in his legs because his knees bent the wrong way. If you visualize a flamingo’s legs, that’s the way Aldrin’s legs  looked. Days before the surgery, the air conditioning at the hospital was sched...
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vision: Mom’s pony, Chiefie


My dad had many natural gifts. One of them was having a vision, or an idea of the way things would turn out. For example, he’d often buy horses in need of retraining, or underweight horses.  He’d often say, “When this horse fills out, he’ll look completely different.” Daddy had an uncanny ability to instantly recognize a horse’s potential. It was as if he could foresee the horse when it reached its highest degree of success. I was very young when my dad bought an Arabian pony stallion named Chiefie, for Mom. Daddy had big plans for him. Chiefie was headstrong at first. In fact, in his early training, he lunged at Daddy and bit him in the shoulder. Daddy recognized from the beginning that Chi...
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My hero: overcoming fears

My dad was my hero in many ways. For one, he never tried to shelter me from new experiences. He wanted me to figure out my own way to solve problems. For example, if I fell, he wouldn’t rush to pick me up. As a child with a disability, I fell often, but Daddy knew he wouldn’t always be there to help. Isn’t it that way when you start a new venture?  You could have trouble at first, but then you sort it out.Another thing Daddy  said was  having courage didn’t mean not being afraid, but acting even when you felt that fear. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a champion rider and Daddy never discouraged me. Instead, he said, “You can do anything you want, if you persevere. Certain things w...
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Horses: A special connection

Have you ever noticed the healing powers of  horses?  For example, did you know horses can help children with autism speak, when no one thought that was possible? Children and horses sense a special  connection; something that helps them beat the odds. What if your child has cerebral palsy? Can riding help her gain muscle strength? From my perspective, I’d say absolutely. How do I know that? When I was nearly four-years-old, a specialist told my dad I’d never walk.He immediately stormed out of the office and told me he had other plans. He said he’d teach me to ride and I’d be fine. From that day forward, Daddy and I set out to prove the doctor wrong.  That single decision changed my life. We...
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the right match: Aiden Horowitz

Have you ever tried to find exactly the right pet for your family? How do you know if it’s the right match for you? If you live in an apartment, you probably prefer a small dog. What if you want a larger dog? What makes a dog the right match for you? Aiden started a website called “Dog Do or Dog Don’t.” Young Aiden Horowitz ha found her passion. She thought of a great project for school. Her website matches prospective adopters with shelter dogs. Isn’t that a fantastic idea? In order to be sure she finds the right dog for you, she has designed a questionnaire. There are questions such as, “What kind of resources can you offer?” Do you have children? What happens after you complete the thirte...
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Perseverance: Cynthia Pettway’s story

What if you were your grandma’s first  grandchild to graduate high school, but you were in the hospital on graduation day. What would you do? That’s exactly the  predicament Cynthia Pettway was in. How could she walk across the stage on that special day? This story will show you perseverance pays off. “Pettway virtually graduated alongside her classmates at Leflore High School this week by rolling an iPad across the stage. With a two-way video stream displayed on the screen, she was able to remotely control the robot from the hospital. The gadget was even dressed in a little cap and gown.” Who got the idea for this amazing use of technology? Stephanie Maddox works in the school system and sh...
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Groundbreaking: Cody Sullivan

Don’t you love when someone does something phenomenal, or groundbreaking? Sometimes they’re pioneers, because they’re the first to do it. Young Cody Sullivan is a pioneer because he is the first person with Down Syndrome to graduate from college? Imagine how proud he and his family must be. Cody has recently graduated from Concordia College in Oregon.  Here’s what Cody’s friend Matt said, “It’s something that’s so normal for us. We see him every day. We don’t see him any different. So it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s graduating; he’s done his four years here; he’s got his degree.” Are you wondering how Cody did it? No doubt he worked very hard to reach is goal. ” Sullivan received a certificate of ...
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Dreams: the story of John Cronin and his dad, Mark

We all have dreams. John Cronin graduated from high school in 2016 wondering what to do next. John has Down Syndrome, but he was searching for an idea that would break stereotypes. John loved crazy, cute, unique, socks. One day, John told  his dad, Mark, I want to start a business with you. They decided to start a business called John’s Crazy Socks to spread happiness. Furthermore, their business would employ only people with disabilities. John and Mark wanted to “Make people with disabilities our reason for success.” One thing John’s Dad didn’t want was to be subsidized. He didn’t want to be dependent on the government. Guess what happened next? People loved John’s crazy socks. In fact, the...
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Baseball: Luke Terry beat the odds

Do you love stories where the underdog beats the odds, or where someone overcomes a disability and astounds everyone? I do. They’re my favorite stories. Have you heard about Luke Terry? He’s a fifteen-year-old baseball player from Tennessee. Luke crouches behind home plate, ready to catch the next pitch. He’s so skillful and adept at his job, you hardly notice he only has one arm. When Luke was a baby, he contracted the e-coli bacteria. At first, doctors hoped they could save his arm, but the infection traveled quickly. Little Luke endured several long surgeries. In fact, it’s a miracle he survived because his heart stopped several times during the operations. Excerpts from a newspaper artic...
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Equine therapy: Check out this blog

Some of you may know about equine therapy. Horseback riding is beneficial for people with various ailments including cerebral palsy, autism, and many others. Sometimes the motion of the horse under a child can help core strength,as well as muscle strength. I know from personal experience the healing powers of horses are amazing. One fairly new way to help people with disabilities is to use miniature horses. Who wouldn’t love a cute, cuddly little horse. Wouldn’t a visit with one lift your spirits? Here are some excerpts from a blog article: Equine Therapy is a highly effective therapeutic tool used at The Meadows in our addiction and trauma treatment program. As part of our innovative and ho...
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Therapeutic riding: Lis Hartel

Some of you may be familiar with therapeutic  horseback riding. It helps people in many ways-physically, emotionally and socially. Riding empowers people and lifts their spirits. Even Prime Minister Winston Churchill said “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”  Children with disabilities such as, cerebral palsy, autism, and even blindness, love the special connection they feel with their horse. Who was the first person with a disability to be empowered by horses?  The answer is Lis Hartel. She was a  Danish equestrian who won medals in the Olympics in 1943 and 1944, even though she suffered from polio. In fact, she rode against the advice of h...
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Horseback riding: A dream come true

Some of you may know that the day my dad heard the doctor say, “Your daughter will never be able to walk, my life changed forever. My Dad wouldn’t accept that as fact. Instead, he said he’d teach me to ride horses and everything would be fine. Horseback riding can change lives. Check out this story and see what happened when a man changed his life in order to impact children will disabilities.  It was a dream come true for him and the children he introduced to horses. Please follow this link and check out this amazing true story. https://www.cnn.com/2016/04/21/us/cnnheroes-harry-swimmer-mitey-riders-horse/index.html   The post Horseback riding: A dream come true appeared first on deaniehumph...
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Heroes: Preston Sharp

I’ve always thought heroes should be honored and respected. In fact,  eleven -year-old Preston Sharp feels the same way. One day, he went to visit his grandpa’s grave and he was stunned that many of the soldiers’ graves didn’t have flags decorating them. His mom said she’d never seen him “So angry and passionate about anything.” In fact, Preston remained upset over that for hours until finally his mom said, “‘Son, if you’re going to complain about something, you have to do something about it or let it go.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, I’m going to do something about it, Mom.” Immediately, Preston said, “I’m going to do something about it, Mom.” How did Preston solve the problem? He took odd jobs to...
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Dreams: Andrew Kurka

Andrew Kurka has always had big dreams, but sometimes you need to adjust them because of circumstances you don’t expect.  When Andrew was eight years-old he wanted to be a champion wrestler. He’s already won a state championship, but his coach had some wise advice, “Remember, there will always be someone better.”  That day Andrew knew something important.” I wanted to be the best. That’s where my Olympic dream grew. Once you win that gold medal on the Olympic stage, you are the best. From then  on,  every moment was a dedic ation to bettering myself, and  my Olympic wrestling dream grew with great successes and many failures.” But, just when Andrew was working toward his goals, something hap...
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Special Needs: Lucas, the Gerber Baby

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a child with special needs? Lucas Warren’s parents worried that he would be bullied because he has Down Syndrome. One day, “on a whim,” his mom decided to enter Lucas’ picture in the Gerber Baby contest. Guess what happened? Lucas won! His parents hope  it will “Shine a light on special needs children. He gets to spread so much joy and love to everybody.” When Lucas’ Mom, Courtney, was asked what makes her baby so special, she said “He smiles all the time. He’s always happy.’ Lucas’ Dad, Jason, shared this statement during a recent interview: “We’re hoping this will impact everyone — that it will shed a little bit of light on the special nee...
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Perseverance: John Henry Krueger

If you’ve been watching the Olympics in South Korea, you may know American short track speed skater, John Henry Krueger, won a silver medal in short track speed skating. During the event, several competitors fell, but John-Henry managed to avoid any of the people who crashed. When he was declared the silver medalist, he was completely stunned.  What a huge accomplishment for a young man, who is only eighteen years-old.He’d shown a great deal of perseverance during his thirteen years of training for that moment. John-Henry’s Mom coached figure skaters, so when he was just five-years-old, she brought him to the skating rink, hoping he’d be interested in becoming a figure skater.  But John-Henr...
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Passion: Why should you develop it?

When I was a little girl, my passion was horses and riding. Fortunately, I grew up at a beautiful riding school called Sweetbrier. For me, it was a place where dreams come true. It was magical. In my case, when I wasn’t walking at nearly four-years-old, my dad took me to a specialist. Everything changed when the doctor announced I’d never walk. I still remember my dad strongly voicing his disapproval. (He told the doctor where he could go with that opinion) With that, Daddy scooped me up and stormed out of the office. What happened next?  Daddy said the doctor was flat-out wrong. Daddy decided instantly to change the course of my life. He said, “I’m going to teach you to ride and you’ll be f...
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New beginnings: amazing

What if your little brother had Down Syndrome and only knew “about twelve words?” Would you feel there was no way you could improve his vocabulary? Apparently, Lydia Gray had another idea of how she could help her little brother, Bo, who is twenty-five months old. What dis she do? She sang “You Are My Sunshine” to him. What happened next is the most amazing part. Lydia remembered every word her baby brother knows came from a song.  After just a few minutes of playing the the song, Bo learned “happy,” “gray,” “dear” and “away.”  Lydia made a video singing and playing her guitar to Bo. Be sure to check it out here: Share if you like. It’s downright adorable. You’ll see that every day is an opp...
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