Give Equine Therapy to Children with Disabilities

by The Red Thread Promise

A football team, a bathroom and a shed – the makings of a busy mission experience!

Our job this weekend is to clear out brush that has grown along the fence between the corral and the trail, plant shrubs and flowers, replace two of the stations, paint and make repairs, and weed and mulch.

It’s a tall order, but we’re about to get some major reinforcement. Nearby Harrison High School has just delivered a busload of students who are pouring onto the parking lot, eager to start work. They are divided into work teams and quickly dispatched to locations around the barn, farmhouse, and the riding arenas.

Soon more than a dozen young men from the football team join us and begin removing small trees and brush from along the fence line and some larger trees that have fallen along the trail to the creek. The speed and efficiency with which they do this is astounding.

Now the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail is thrumming with activity. As the young men of Harrison High haul brush and trees away, two members of our team remove old whiteboard and chalkboard, making way for the new, weather-resistant Plexiglas boards. Two more are busily wielding cans of spray paint, applying a fresh coat of primary colors to the shape sorter and hanging tubes and even a bit to themselves. And still a surprising number of us are hunched over, attacking weeds with unusual vigor. Even Jacob’s baby sister and brother get into the act, helping position the posthole digger and planting flowers.

The sun climbs higher and it’s hot! We’ve been working for more than three hours. It’s time for the high school students to depart, and they quickly assemble and board the bus, then disappear around the bend in the road.

The trail is quieter now, with only the occasional metallic thud of the posthole digger, the regular buzz of carpenter bees and the thwacking and sucking sound of Jacob’s younger siblings’ shoes in the mud hole they’ve discovered.
An old saying pops into our heads: many hands make light work. With the help of the high school students, we’ve accomplished much of our work on the trail.

After lunch, we’re ready for more chores. Sonya, The Red Thread Promise’s Vice-President, tackles painting one of the bathrooms. She’ll have to do this alone, since there’s no space for another person inside the bathroom once she gets the ladder up.

The rest of us head to the tool shed. This is more than a clearing out and reorganizing mission. You may recall that Jessie Moore, Director of McKenna Farms, lost Will, her husband and father of her two young sons, to a massive heart attack in December 2012.

Will and McKenna Farms were inextricably entwined. So much of the daily life of the farm depended on Will, and Will’s toolshed has remained pretty much untouched since his death.

We gently consult Jessie as to what should be done with each item. Sarah, Jacob’s mom, is known for her organizing skills, so once the piles are sorted, she directs us in reorganizing the shed.

We head back to the farmhouse for a cool drink of water, and to admire Sonya’s handiwork. The bland off-white has been replaced with a first coat in an inviting shade of green.

Sweat trickles down our backs and faces. We are dirty and red-faced and we smile, thinking of the children who will be back to ride the trail Monday morning, breathing in the scent of sage and rosemary, tossing frogs into squares and circles and stars, playing the chimes, and talking about the pink and purple and yellow blossoms.

They’ll notice the freshly painted bathroom – kids love color. And although they won’t peer into the toolshed, the new farm manager will, and his job will be a little easier.

In our mind’s eye we see the faces of those children, and our thoughts return to the conversations we’ve had with them and their families.

Exciting things are happening, and we’ll share those with you soon.

Do thoughts of the children you’re helping support bring a smile to your face? We hope so. You’re an important part of what we do, and thoughts of you, too, makes us smile.

Would you like to join us on our next trip to McKenna Farms in Dallas, GA, or visit our other partnering therapy center, Hilltop Equestrian Center in West Alexandria, Ohio? If so, please let us know. Email or call 513-423-0108.

Jacob's Little Brother Helped Plant Flowers
Bathroom Before and After Sonya
Bathroom Before and After Sonya's Paint
Princess, 6 months
Princess, 6 months

Sweet Princess. It is with heavy hearts that we share that she passed away in the wee hours just past midnight. 

Yesterday morning, she came through her open heart surgery with no apparent complications. By afternoon, the medical team was already discussing plans for her next procedu
re in 6 months following her expected recovery. The US host family spent time with her mother, Fabiola, to offer support throughout the day.

Yet sometime during the night Princess slipped away. We are confident that the medical team did everything they could for her, but we understand that she was critical due to the nature of her surgery.

Tomorrow TRTP VP, Sonya, her children, and a friend will be visiting Princess's mother, Fabiola, to comfort her in any way possible. We are framing the photos that we took of mom and baby 2 days ago and giving them as a gift. We treasure these photos and hope that Fabiola's family will too.

If you pray, please say a prayer for the family who is in deep mourning. If you think positive thoughts, please send your energy to them. The mother, father and grandmother's separation from one another at this time must be unbearable.

Gifts in both Princess and Jacob's memory are gratefully accepted. With these gifts we will continue to provide hippotherapy for children with disabilities. Thank you as always for your support for all parents that grieve the loss of a child.

Princess and Jacob, 7 years apart
Princess and Jacob, 7 years apart

Our hearts are overwhelmed today. It is a day for CELEBRATION, MEMORIES, TEARS, and most importantly, HOPE.

Today we honor the life of Jacob Noah Beachy, namesake for Jacob's Fund, the US arm of The Red Thread Promise. This day would have marked his 10th birthday, a day we continue to celebrate every year. Jacob was born with a heart condition that required multiple surgeries; complications from his final procedure took him from us 3 short years later. While his life here was brief, his memory continues to make a lasting impact on children with disabilities. We honor him every time we award a hippotherapy ridership to a disadvantaged child. Along with his family, we are happy that a bit of Jacob lives on in everyone who receives this life-changing treatment through gifts from caring people like you.

On this same day 7 years later, an infant girl with a similar heart condition went to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio for open heart surgery. Today, tiny Princess, a Haitian infant just 6 months old and barely 10 lbs, had her first of several critical operations, under the skilled hands of the same surgeon in the same hospital where Jacob was treated. Both children will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

We ask for your prayers and positive thoughts for this little girl, her mother, the surgeon and the hospital staff. Although she made it through surgery, we are unsure of her status as of this report. We trust that everything went well, and following all future procedures, she will grow up to lead the most normal life possible in Haiti with her family. The Red Thread Promise will continue to support Princess and her mother, Fabiola, while in the States as well as in their home country.

Your donations make a huge difference in the lives of disabled children in the United States and abroad. Please consider making your next gift to The Red Thread Promise in honor of Jacob to help children like Princess receive the medical care and therapy they need to lead the fullest life possible. Thank you for your support and for sharing this critical need with others so we can make a huge impact on children with disabilites.

Jacob Noah Beachy
Jacob Noah Beachy
Princess and her mom, Fabiola
Princess and her mom, Fabiola
Showing Princess some of our Haiti pictures
Showing Princess some of our Haiti pictures
Princess at her home in Haiti
Princess at her home in Haiti


Christopher, his brother, and Mom at McKenna Farms
Christopher, his brother, and Mom at McKenna Farms

While most children utter their first word when they’re around a year old, Christopher’s first words came when he was eleven: horse, trot fast. Not your typical first words, but his mother, Felicia, was ecstatic to hear them!

Christopher’s severely autistic. He’s thirteen now, and he has been dealing with his diagnosis since he was a toddler.

Christopher’s symptoms became apparent before his third birthday, and Felicia, immediately began searching for help for him. Fortunately, she found Babies Can’t Wait, a Georgia Department of Health program for infants up to three years old with special needs. Thus began their journey on the road that is so familiar to thousands of families: the constant search for help for a child.

For families like Christopher’s, life assumes a new rhythm with the diagnosis: therapy several times each week, frequent and multiple doctors’ appointments.

While therapy may look simple to a typically developing person, it is hard work for children. Kids with disabilities often spend hours each week making their bodies develop new skills, skills that do not come naturally to them. For many children, therapy is temporary. Within a few months, or perhaps a couple of years, the problem is resolved and the child is back on track developmentally. For children like Christopher, therapy becomes part of life and continues for many years, on into adulthood.

Thankfully, resources and services for young special needs kids can be quite good. However, just like many other parents in this same situation, Felicia found out that as her son grew older, those resources dwindle dramatically. She found herself as a single mom dealing with two boys, facing the challenges of a special needs child and footing devastating medical expenses on her own.

After eight years of clinical therapy, Christopher’s doctor decided to take a new approach, and prescribed hippotherapy for this budding teenager. Felicia found McKenna Farms and Christopher began equine therapy.

And he began to talk.

What a milestone for a family whose child has never spoken a word! Their world changed in an instant. Now, after two years of hippotherapy, Christopher has graduated to therapeutic riding.

Now, when Christopher wants to go out, he can say “shoes.” If he needs a shower, he says “wash-wash.” When it’s time to go the bathroom, he can tell his mom “flush toilet.”

After two successful years of hippotherapy, Christopher has graduated to therapeutic riding, which will help him maintain and improve flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. In order to maintain continuous progress, consistent weekly therapy is vital. Felicia is able to pay for one therapeutic riding session a month. Jacob’s Fund underwrites the other three sessions each month to ensure uninterrupted therapy for Christopher, to maximize his potential.

Christopher’s speech triumph and the amazing and sometimes unexpected accomplishments of kids like him are what drive Jacob’s Fund‘s efforts. Your support makes it possible. We simply could not do this without you. Thank you. And please click on the link below for our video showing what your support means to disabled children.

Christopher, his brother, and therapist Stephanie
Christopher, his brother, and therapist Stephanie
Hippotherapy includes riding backward
Hippotherapy includes riding backward


Kyle and his sister Kaylie
Kyle and his sister Kaylie

As a charitable organization, The Red Thread Promise works hard to let others know exactly what we do: helping needy children with disabilities in the United States through Jacob’s Fund.  We do our best to explain hippotherapy -- a new term to many – and how therapy delivered on a horse opens new worlds for children, far beyond the limits of therapy in a clinical setting. We often speak of the bond between the child and the horse.

Today we’d like to focus on our deepest reason for why we do what we do: small victories. We rejoice in the milestones of physical development that each child reaches; we’re brought to tears when a child speaks for the first time; and we whoop with joy when a wheelchair-bound kid takes steps on his own.

Kyle, a Jacob’s Fund ridership recipient, loves his horse and his hippotherapy sessions. His excitement is palpable when he steps out of the car at Hilltop Equestrian Center and heads straight for the barn. His vocalization has improved, and he’s able to stay on task longer during hippotherapy sessions. These are some of the physical, observable changes. Kyle’s accomplishments come close to the heart of why we do what we do at Jacob’s Fund. 

But outward signs don’t tell the whole story. 

The real story is told inside families, in the everyday events with moms and dads and brothers and sisters whose lives are entwined with these special children, children like Kyle. 

We think these photos say more than any words we could write. They give a tiny glimpse into Kyle’s world with his family and underline why we all work together to bring hope and healing to kids like him.

Kyle’s parents shared this photo and message with us:

Occasionally Kaylie asks to sleep with her bubby as she did tonight, and this is how I found them sleeping. So precious! She is at times saddened, of course, with Kyle's disabilities, but I'm so proud of her. She's wise beyond her years and cares for him almost like a mother.

Here, in the heart of a family, we are reminded of a scrap of scripture: that they may have life, and they may have it more abundantly.

Helping children have a more abundant life – yes, that’s what Jacob’s Fund is all about.


Kyle and Kaylie Awake
Kyle and Kaylie Awake
Kyle's family

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Organization Information

The Red Thread Promise

Location: Havertown, PA - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Kathy Korge Albergate
Havertown, PA United States

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