Tony and one of his favorite rides, Pumpkin
In September, our team visited Dallas, Georgia to follow up with the kids we support, hear about their journeys, celebrate their successes and offer additional support. One of those kids is Tony, a Jacob’s Fund scholarship recipient. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Tony’s journey has been a hard one and life continues to throw challenges in his path.
As you may remember from a previous report, Tony’s mother was given a diagnosis of inoperable esophageal cancer when he was only 15, an already turbulent time in a young person's life. His family’s resources and energy centered on his mother's health and care, leaving Tony without a stable home life. Unable to continue his therapy sessions, Tony began to withdraw and, unfortunately, his attitude and behavior began slipping.
That’s when Jacob’s Fund stepped in to provide continuous weekly therapeutic riding. With a lot of hard work, Tony went on to qualify for the 2011 Equestrian Special Olympics where his mother was able to watch him compete and capture medals only weeks before her death.
Shortly thereafter, Tony’s world turned upside down. Since his mother’s passing, he has become homebound, spending most of his time on the computer or just listening to music. His family is often absent and opportunities for outings are practically nonexistent as are social interactions. Thankfully, a weekend caregiver drives him to the Farm once a week for his one-hour sessions, the only consistent thing in his life.
Tony recently completed a work adjustment program offered by the state of Georgia and successfully worked at Goodwill, TJ Maxx and other short-term jobs, with transportation provided by the state. Back at home, and without transportation, Tony is unable to hold a job, something he desperately wants and needs. He is currently on a waiting list for life-skills classes as well as for placement in a group home.
While his body grows thinner and thinner, his hope and optimism is heartbreakingly beautiful. Tony may never be able to live independently, but his urge to take charge of as much of his life as he possibly can inspires us to find ways to help him live his life in the fullest possible way. We hope you will join us in supporting Tony as a young adult, providing continuous therapy.
During a therapeutic riding session