Helping the Little Children
I feel the pounding footsteps under my feet and the intense air rush past me as I run, squirming to keep my posture. I struggle to stay glued to the beast's side. If I miss one crucial step, it may mean tragedy for this innocent little disabled boy. I stay close to Dakota's ribs as we move into the turn. Relieved, I gasp for the warm mountain air as we slow to a walk. With my arms still extended above my head, I smile at the partially toothless grin.
As I drive my topless jeep, rounding bend after bend, I find myself staring at the lightly snow-capped mountains in the distance. I run my hands through my windblown hair and notice ...view middle of the document...
The sweet aroma of oats and freshly cut hay fills the air, nearly smothering the stench of manure, pigs, and mildew. The air, thick with dust, stings my eyes as it blows past me.
As usual, there is a large crowd of adults conversing near the entrance to the breezy barn; they are anxiously waiting for the last Therapeutic Equestrian Riding Program (TER Program) session of the year to begin. The TER Program is a program where children with disabilities can receive physical, occupational, or speech therapy while riding a horse. The horse seems to connect with the child in such a way that the most impossible goals seem within reach.
Approaching the chattering crowd, I walk with careful glances. My attention is suddenly caught by Chris, who is busily watering the arena to keep the dust down. Listening to the pigeons frolicking on the tin roof, my eyes become fixed on Luke, a seven year old boy with Kabuki Syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that usually results in abnormal facial features and the delay of cognitive (thinking) abilities. He stands awkwardly with his hands shoved nervously into his pockets. Luke is a stocky boy with startling white hair and a seemingly permanent red kool-aid stain encircling his lips. He peers at me through his thick glasses with mysteriously squinted blue eyes. As I approach him, I pretend I do not see him, because I don't want to ruin his game. He suddenly pulls his sticky hands out of his pockets, pulling them inside-out. Rambunctiously shoving his pudgy hands into my face, he excitedly shouts, "Boo! Did I scare you?" I jump in an overwhelming state of terror as if I didn't see him.
Just then, a faded blue mini van pulls up with rumbling music drowning out the screams and laughter of countless little kids. The sliding door skids open with the sound of protest in its voice. Simultaneously, about a dozen little Hispanic tikes flood from the van and go their separate ways. Some sit on squishy diapers and devour handfuls of dandelions while the others pester every horse in sight. I walk with steady steps, dodging kid after kid, to the passenger door and peek in the window. The overjoyed face of Paco stares back at me. Paco is an eight year old Hispanic boy with two rather devastating disorders, cerebral palsy and quadriplegia. Cerebral palsy is when the brain is damaged before or during birth; it has affected Paco in ways such as paralysis, involuntary muscle contractions, and severe difficulty with muscle control. He has quadriplegia, which is an intense paralysis of all four limbs, as well.
As I lift Paco out of the front seat, I notice how much bigger he has gotten since last week. I instinctively shift his body from hip to hip, trying to loosen him up enough to move the slightest little bit. I then set his unsteady feet down on the uneven dirt, holding him up firmly. As I support his weight, he struggles to move his nearly...