Our daughter Elizabeth's wish came in the form of weekly riding lessons with a pony named Al at Shadowfax Farm in Millis, MA. Al, short for Prince Aladdin, is truly every girl's dream "unicorn" pony. He is friendly, peppy, and the perfect match for our little girl. And I have never seen Elizabeth smile bigger than when she is riding.
Elizabeth is spunky and fearless with a strong sense of self. Now 10, she has been in and out of the hospital most of her life due to refractory epilepsy. She has seizures every month, along with a host of side effects that impact daily life.
Two years ago, as part of her recovery from brain surgery, Elizabeth began horseback riding lessons with approval from her doctor. It was quickly clear that being on a horse is her "happy place" -- she even started saving up to one day purchase her own horse.
We knew about Make-A-Wish for many years, but it was Elizabeth's neurologist who referred her for a wish to boost her spirits. Elizabeth was genuinely moved that others would take an interest in supporting her. And of course, she set her sights on a wish that would give her more time horseback riding.
Elizabeth loves being able to spend so much time with Al. She has developed relationships with people at the barn and loves to assist with barn chores in her spare time. She is adept at managing all the details of caring for Al.
We've seen Elizabeth's confidence grow through her wish. She takes great pride in her work at the barn. It gives her independence and keeps her motivated to stay on track in other areas of her life, too. It is such a joy to see our child excel, when so much is a challenge for her.
Please continue to support this beautiful organization. A wish brings validation to families with medically complex children, in a way that makes us feel seen, loved, and understood. In a perfect world, I want to provide all the opportunities I possibly can for my children. Yet so much of this circumstance is outside of my control. What I can do is love my daughter the best way I can, and I can rest in gratitude for the love and support Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island and its supporters have shown Elizabeth and our family.
Photos courtesy of Marylou Crowley.