"Beginning when I was five years-old and throughout my childhood, I would repeatedly ask my Daddy if he would buy me a horse. Of course, he always said YES—but I never actually got one.
After I was diagnosed with ALS in 2013, the Doctors at the medical practice where I work found out that I have always wanted to go see the wild ponies that live on Chincoteague Island on the Maryland and Virginia border. So, they paid for my dear friend Pat and me to spend a week there. We enjoyed it so much that we went back the following year with another good friend.
It is estimated that wild ponies have lived on the islands in the area for over 400 years. Each year tens of thousands of spectators come to watch the Saltwater Cowboys swim the pony herd from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. The local Fire Company controls the herd size with a pony auction on the last Thursday in July.
Although I could not bid on a horse, I decided right then and there that when I got back home, I would make my childhood dream come true by finding a place to learn how to ride a horse. My search led me to Spruce Meadow Farms, where they rescue and rehabilitate horses that have been injured, abused, neglected, abandoned or orphaned and provide horse riding lessons.
I have been riding ever since! It’s been two wonderful years now and I am about to begin my third. The horse in this photo is named Apollo. Now, my friend Pat and I go to a dude ranch every year for my birthday and we have a ball.”
As challenging as it may seem for those with ALS, dreams and wishes are worth pursuing. According to a recent Make-A-Wish® study, these experiences bring back hope and the ability to fight harder against illness. Family members report that bonds are strengthened and repaired. Medical professionals tell us they believe fulfilled wishes actually influence a patient's physical health condition.
Not everyone with ALS can ride a horse, but you can experience your own wish, big or small. We encourage all those with ALS to live life as fully as possible and to ask loved ones, friends and your community to help make it happen. It doesn't matter exactly WHAT you do, just so it brings more joy and fulfillment to your life. If your wishes or dreams are beyond your financial means, we urge you to start an online fundraiser or seek out “wish-granting organizations” like dreamfoundation.org that provide grants to people with life-threatening illness."
How do YOU find ways to enjoy life, even though challenged by ALS?