August 19, 2020
“I want my son to have the best experiences that will help him live a wonderful and fulfilling life.”
She is a proactive Mom. Her name is Diane. The love she has for her son, Hunter, like most parents, knows no bounds. Hunter lives with Down Syndrome, ADHD, Autism, Tourette's Syndrome and Anxiety, but these disanoses’ don’t define or limit him.
When Hunter was about 3 years old, Diane was introduced to hippotherapy and instantly knew that Hunter would benefit. Formerly eQuest, Hunter became an active rider with the Carlisle Charitable Foundation. As soon as he started riding, Diane immediately saw differences in Hunter. “When you see your child standing on a horse you think to yourself, What?! but the people at Carlisle are experts. Even if I didn’t understand, the changes I saw in Hunter mentally and emotionally proved ten times over this type of therapy just works for him.” After his first semester, Hunter ramped up his vocabulary from 50 to 250 words. His ability to process and understand emotions increased as well, but that didn’t come without a milestone first hand experience.
Hunter and his horse Misty were bonded. When Misty got sick and her time was coming to an end, Carlisle didn’t keep Hunter from this experience because it might be painful, but rather worked with Hunter to help him better understand death and grief. They invited Hunter and Diane to feed Misty her last carrots. When Hunter asked what would happen next, Carlisle provided him an explanation of the Circle of Life and how it was Misty’s time to go. “I didn’t know if this made sense for us at the time to do that or not,” Diane said, “but I thought it was important for Hunter to go through this experience with the wonderful people who treat us like family. Carlisle handled the situation with knowledge, dignity and grace and I can’t put into words how grateful we are for that.”
Not soon after, Diane applied for a scholarship and Hunter has been able to enjoy all of the experiences at Carlisle. He does everything from brushing and grooming to tapping his horse's leg to clean his hoof.
Hunter has a job through the Department of Labors VOC Rehab at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm and he’s been working really hard clipping branches, clearing beaches and yelling at bugs. He’s playing Unified Basketball and received his Varsity letter this year! “He’s getting the experiences you can only hope for. He’s riding horses, playing sports, and so many other things. There’s nothing like experiencing the moments of elation and pride. He persevered through the bad, and there's been so many gifts because of that. Carlisle has adjusted and grown with Hunter and they’ve done that so Hunter can succeed,” said Diane, “the growth of Hunter’s confidence, pride, sense of belonging and importance has been and continues to prove that this works.”