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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: A Special Bond | 08-23-2016
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Commentary by Marianne Cederlind 
| Tuesday, Aug 23, 2016

Marianne_CederlindDust off your boots and get ready to open your hearts to the kids of Carousel Ranch.

What makes Carousel Ranch such a special place within the Santa Clarita Valley? Simply, it’s transformative. A place where therapy is disguised as fun in an atmosphere where every child can succeed. For a child with special needs, there is a bond between horse and human that cannot be replicated in a clinical setting.

Now entering its 20th year of changing lives, Carousel Ranch provides equestrian therapy for children with disabilities and special needs, creating a unique and individualized program to meet each child’s specific needs and goals. This nonprofit organization is one of Santa Clarita’s cherished treasures providing developmental therapeutic programs for children with disabilities through equestrian therapy and, new this year, ready-to-work programs for older students.

For the past two decades, Carousel Ranch has been a special place where disabilities seem to disappear. Meet Sebastian, a young boy who suffers from symptoms of an extremely rare dysfunctional gene known as CLN8, a disorder characterized by degeneration of the central nervous system. It causes seizures and progressive mental retardation, loss of motor function and visual decline to blindness. There is no known cure for this disorder.

Sebastian

Sebastian

Sebastian is now legally blind. His motor skills are declining, and he has difficulty walking, speaking and chewing. Horse therapy helps Sebastian forget about his disorder and all of his limitations. His time on a horse has helped to promote self-confidence and given Sebastian more assurance of what he’s able to accomplish both on the horse and in life.

Then there is Elliot, a delicate six-year-old with an adventurous spirit. Elliot was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a big word for a little girl. She must wear full leg braces to walk, but her time on the horse is brace-free giving her legs a chance to work in other ways. Although non-verbal, she strives to communicate with her favorite horses, Banner and Mo.

For every child served by the program, there are hundreds of powerful stories to tell. Yet, each year there are more children with special needs on the waiting list hoping for the opportunity to improve their health and quality of life.

Having a child with special needs is a journey many of us will never take. At Carousel Ranch, we recognize the challenges faced by families with a special needs child and subsidize every lesson thanks to the tireless efforts and generosity of donors and supporters. With the community’s support, Carousel Ranch will continue to help children like Sebastian and Elliot succeed. Together, we can make a difference – one very special child at a time.

Heart-Of-The-West-1.aiOn Aug. 27, the 20th Annual Heart of the West Dinner, Auction and Children’s Riding Demonstration will be held on the grounds of Carousel Ranch (www.CarouselRanch.org). You can help make this special night successful by attending, donating or volunteering at the event. All hands are welcome.

Can’t make the event but want to lend a hand? Pony Up, Partners! Every dollar – large or small – makes a difference at Carousel Ranch. $20 buys two bags of carrots (the Ranch’s 15 horses can eat up to 50 pounds of carrots per day); $50 pays for a horse’s vaccines for a year; $75 pays for one pair of new shoes, which horses need every 6 to 8 weeks; $125 covers one horse’s feed for a month; $200 for a month’s worth of fly control; $500 covers the cost of a typical veterinary bill when a horse is sick.

$1,000 sponsors a child’s therapy for six months; $3,500 sponsors a horse for a year; $5,500 buys a three-month supply of alfalfa cubes for horses; and $20,000 covers horse feed, supplies and supplements per year.

The value of horse therapy for a child with special needs? Priceless.

 

Marianne Cederlind is President of the Carousel Ranch Board of Directors and Executive Vice President and Chief Business Banking Officer of Mission Valley Bank. Carousel Ranch (CarouselRanch.org) is a 501(c)3 organization located at 34289 Rocking Horse Road in Santa Clarita and can be reached at 661.268.8010.

 

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