Little "Bea's" Story
Six weeks before my daughter's 2nd birthday, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Words can't express how devastating it was to hear the news. Sure, she had been assessed and evaluated as developmentally delayed, but being given a label like CP felt like being given a death sentence. Dramatic, I realize, but that's how it felt. I had my daughter enlisted in Early On, and was taking her to PT, OT, and speech therapy with our local hospital, but her progression seemed slow to say the least.
I remember breaking down in tears, sharing her recent diagnosis to a close friend, confessing I didn't know if I could handle the road ahead of me. About a week later, this same friend told me that his boss had a child with CP who had recently started Hippotherapy and the results had been remarkable. I stayed up most of the night researching the field and looking for local therapeutic riding facilities. That night I sent emails to every horse therapy facility within 100 miles. The next day I called and followed up with the various programs and locations. I quickly learned that while there were several locations that offered horse therapy, those that were actually accredited for Hippotherapy were rather limited. I also learned that the age of my child was a concern to several of the owners of the organizations. Most would not be willing to see her, and those that would did not have a licensed therapist on hand.
I reached back out to my friend and asked where his coworker took her child. He put me in touch with his boss, and she told me about the amazing therapy her son was receiving with Bonnie at CHUM. As it turns out, I had found CHUM on my own, but hadn't contacted them simply due to their proximity. It didn't seem like a realistic commitment. I'm gone with work 50-60 hours a week as a single mother in retail, and I didn't see how I could make it happen. I decided I would call and try it out. One call to Bonnie and for the first time since hearing the diagnosis, I began to feel hope.
Exactly one month after her 2nd birthday, on September 6th, I took my daughter to CHUM for her first session of Hippotherapy. I literally witnessed my child transform in front of my eyes! The first drive home, and my nonverbal child started babbling away the entire way home. I immediately contacted my employer and advised them that going forward I would like one of my days off to be Wednesday's so that I could take my sweet angel for her Hippotherapy at CHUM.
Taking her to this appointment is my single most important commitment and I refuse to miss. It's hard to believe that it has only been six months she has been riding with Bonnie. Every major progression we have seen in her journey has quite clearly been the result of her time at CHUM. My daughter crawled for the first time on Thanksgiving, the day after her session when I was told "watch for some big movement this week" and most recently, she started to walk with very little support (grabbing a finger on one hand!). She has learned how to catch herself when she falls; she has acquired fine and gross motor skills far beyond those that she came in with. She learned how to throw a ball, use a sorter, etc. Every day and every session, she is working on new skills and refining her previous skill set.
I wish I could adequately describe what this program had meant to my family, and properly illustrate what it has meant to my child. You'd have to see the smile on her face, you'd have to see her grabbing the reins with confidence. You'd have to hear her verbalized new sounds in a way she never had before.
It is with a very warm heart that I share I recently had the opportunity to thank the coworker of my friend for sharing about CHUM. She told me that her son had started walking independently, a fact that she attributes to the work he did at CHUM. To say that these are amazing people, working for the greater good; to say that my daughter's life and mine have been blessed by this extraordinary organization is such an understatement.
If you are wondering if CHUM could help you child, please be assured it will. I drive over 150 miles every week because I know that out of the 7 therapy sessions I have scheduled for her every week, this is the single biggest contribution to her success. I pass several other therapeutic horse riding facilities along the way because Bonnie and her crew of exceptional individuals offer services so above and beyond anything you'll find elsewhere. My child's life, and mine, are forever changed by the team at CHUM.