A few weeks ago, the following ad was found on Craigslist:
Hello. I am posting this for my little brother Dawson. Here is Dawson’s story: Dawson is the 4th born of 5 kids. He was born on October 29, 2005. He was the happiest baby. Then when he was 6 months old he was diagnosed with Epilepsy; commonly known as seizures. He was having 15+ a day. He was taking maximum amounts of medicine in the morning and at night; 3 liquids 2pills. He was so drugged he didn’t learn how to talk until he was 3 years old! He still has some speech problems to this day. His seizures had gone down to about 5 a day. Then FINALLY we got them controlled for a while. This past year he has started having several seizures a day. He just started pre-k this August. He is finding out he is different from the other kids in his class. The only thing that makes him feel better is going on a trail ride with me on my mares. We want him to be able to ride and have a horse so he CAN be like other people. So he can fit in. Like I said, there are 5 kids and my mom is a single mother. With the current economy, we don’t have enough money right now upfront to buy him a horse. His birthday is coming up on the 29th of this month, and his biggest wish is a pony of his own. My mares are too much for him. We want so badly to provide this for him! But we simply can’t. So that’s why I am posting this. Tell your family and friends PLEASE! Help us get the word out and let Dawson live his dream. We are asking that someone donate a pony and some tack to Dawson for his birthday. THANKS SO MUCH! THIS WILL TURN HIS WORLD UPSIDE DOWN! There is plenty of love to go around in this family! I will keep whoever donates posted with pictures through e-mail... if they desire.
Not even twelve hours after this ad was posted, Dawson’s family was contacted by Personal Ponies Ltd. They were inspired by Dawson’s story and arranged for Dawson to have not 1 but 2 ponies of his own! Hours later, Dawson’s family drove Dawson down to Lakeland, GA. to meet Donna Blood, Georgia State Director. He had no idea where he was going. When we got there he was so excited! There was an instant connection with Dawson, and the two ponies Aiden, & Ian. We knew they were the perfect match! When Donna (the State director) told him they were his, he wanted to tie them to the back of the car and take them home!
Donna Blood said that when she read through half of Dawson’s Story her eyes were filled with tears. When she was done with the story, she knew Dawson was going to be one of Personal Ponies LTD special kids! Before Donna would place the ponies in Dawson’s care she wanted to make sure he would have a connection with one of the ponies. When Dawson arrived, Donna put a halter and lead rope on Ian and brought him out of the pasture. Immediately, she saw that Dawson had a connection with Sir Ian.
When she began brushing Ian’s mane and Dawson asked if he could brush too. She gave the brush to him, and he began to brush Ian from his mane, to his back, to his stomach, to his tail. Ian wasn’t bothered one bit by this precious little four year old boy standing right up under him brushing him all over. She then gave Ian some oats to eat. Little Dawson bent down and was feeding Ian oats from his tiny little hand; All the while talking to Ian like he was his long lost friend.
At one point, Donna even heard Dawson say, “Here baby. Here’s your food. It’s good.” Donna had no doubt that Ian was for Dawson, and Dawson for Ian. This is when she decided that Ian and his pasture mate, Aiden, were to be Dawson’s. She then asked Dawson to look at her. She asked him, “Dawson, do you like these ponies?” He said, “Yes.” She said, “Well, if you will brush and feed them every day for me, I want to give them to you.” Dawson looked up at her with the cutest little grin out of the side of his mouth and said, “I think that’s a good idea.” He said, “We can just tie them to the back of the car and take them home.” With tears in their eyes of course, they all had to laugh out loud at the precious innocence of little Dawson.
In Loving Memory of Mallory Ezernack
As told by their mother Claudia Ezernack
From Kay O'Connor: I wish you and all PPL members could know this young lady. She is a tremendous inspiration to everyone around her. She spends hours and hours sharing her pony with huge groups of autistic children, children who are hearing impaired, children at Barksdale Air Force Base whose parents are still in Kuwait, and residents at two nursing homes, on a weekly basis....even on days when she can hardly get around as she pulls her oxygen tank behind her and wears that great big smile of hers!!!!!! She's our Theme Child for 2004!
Our story began on November 16, 1988 when we found ourselves at God’s mercy. You see, this was the day our identical twin daughters were born. Madeline Grace and Mallory Louise were so eager to make their mark on the world that they blessed our lives ten weeks earlier than planned.
Although tiny and frail, the girls were beautiful in our eyes. We saw such joy when we looked at them. It wasn't until the second day that we had any idea of what lay ahead for all of us. Even then, we could not have possibly known where God was leading us.
The doctors informed us that our precious baby girls were both born with identical heart/lung defects….defects that would require numerous operations to repair, if possible. Shocked and stunned, I could not grasp what this man, a pediatric cardiologist, was saying to me. “Tetrology of Fallot.” What strange words. Of course we wanted to know what this meant. How could we possibly understand statements like, “pulmonary artresia with a septal wall defect”? And medical terms like oxygen saturation, cut down, central line, shunts, and open heart surgery.
Our babies needed a surgery to place a cortex tube in their hearts to route blood to their lungs. How can you perform surgery of that magnitude on children smaller than most dolls and with hearts the size of a quarter? It seemed as if our world was falling apart. This should be the happiest time of our lives. Our other two daughters, Lacy 8 and Rachel 4, were expecting their Mom and Dad to bring two new sisters home. How were going to tell them that the babies would not be coming home for many months….if at all?
At three weeks of age the twins had the first of many surgeries. They were critical for several months, but managed to continue to fight. On respirators, feeding tubes, and what seemed like every medication known to mankind, the girls carried us on an endless roller coaster ride…. so many ups and downs and twists and turns. Then they came home. Mallory came first at 3 months old and Madeline followed at 4 months old. Our house became a make-shift hospital.
By the time the girls were four years old, Madeline had undergone four open heart surgeries and Mallory two. Then in the summer of 1993, shortly before the girls’ fifth birthday, we were told that Madeline was in congestive heart failure. The doctors informed us that she would require a heart-double lung transplant and no doctor in their right mind would even consider it. There would be no one to help us. The most we could hope for would be a few months to love her and be with her.
After weeks of crying and feeling physically ill, we decided we would give our girls, all four of them, the best memories that we could. We spent the next few months focusing on family time and giving thanks to the Lord that he had blessed us with such a great family. We wanted Madeline’s time with us to mean something. She had a way of touching your heart like an angel. That’s exactly what my twins were. Angels.
Then on the morning of December 18, 1993, just two months after their fifth birthday, God took our Madeline Grace home with him. She ended her journey at home, surrounded by family, friends, her favorite toys, Barney movies, and Mickey Mouse music that she loved so much. The last thing my baby heard before she left this world was her Mama, Nana, and Godmother singing to her…..”Sally the Camel”. Her Daddy and I were the last to be with her. We assured her that all the pain would be over and we would all be happy together again one day.
They say the hardest thing in the world to endure is the loss of a child. I would agree. I would also say that it is watching your child lose her identical twin sister. Mallory was now lost. She wouldn’t eat, sleep, or come out of her room. Her depression was so overwhelming that the doctors were afraid that we would loose her too. A broken heart is worse than a damaged heart. We felt if Mallory did not have something to focus on, we would shortly be reuniting her with her sister.
They also say that animals make for great therapy. Maybe there is something to that. We did not know, but what we did know was that we had to do something. We took Mal horseback riding. She was reluctant at first, but what we saw after only a few minutes of being around the horses was unbelievable. She was smiling and having a good time. Maybe there is something to this animal therapy after all.
A few months down the line, and several trips to the stables, we found ourselves owning a pony. A Shetland pony named Babydoll. It was not long before Babydoll became Mal’s best friend. This shaggy old pony gave her a reason for living. A very lonesome, lost, sad, little girl with a broken heart and an old furry pony with a crooked leg became the happiest pair you have ever seen. They went everywhere together. There was not a day that Mal was not at the stables with Babydoll. Until, it came time for Mal to have surgery. Mallory had five more surgeries over the next few years. And Babydoll was there to welcome her home after each one. I knew in my heart that the shaggy old pony Mal lovingly called “B-doll” was my little girl’s only reason for living. For this, we loved that old pony dearly. Then in January of 2001, we lost our dear little angel Babydoll. She too was heaven bound. That’s where all angels go. She would now be Madeline’s pony in heaven.
This was going to be devastating to Mallory. How would she handle this loss? She had now lost her sister and her best friend. God has a way of bringing people into your life for reasons we don’t understand. You see, a few months earlier, I had the opportunity to meet two very special ladies….Marianne Alexander and Kay O’Connor from a program called Personal Ponies Limited. I had contacted them to introduce myself. Because of our experience with Mal, we know exactly what the love of and the love for a pony can do for a person. We spend our days exposing not only Mallory, but other children, to the joys that ponies can bring. I had read an article about PPL and just wanted to relay to Marianne my mission. Little did I know that in doing so, our lives would once again change in a remarkable way.
Mallory was not alone for long. Thanks to the loving hearts of PPL members, Mallory was blessed with a tiny black gelding named Sir Magnus MacKay of Amazing Grace. It was love at first sight. These two were meant to be together. This little black butterball must have been sent from heaven. Just look at his name. Grace. Madeline Grace. ”Amazing Grace” is the song I have sung to my girls since the day they were born. But something wasn’t right in Mallory’s heart. Mal would not call him Magnus. She insisted that he be called Mickey. After all, Madeline’s favorite person was Mickey Mouse. How could she call him anything else? “Mickey”. It fit him like a glove. Mickey it will be.
He has been with us for two years now. He arrived at our house via Kay O’Connor on the weekend of Mallory’s 13th birthday. This is the time we celebrate the birth of our angels. Mickey is an angel too. What a blessing his is. He brings so much happiness to her and many others.
Mallory shares him with wheelchair-bound children and nursing home residents. Being only 27” tall, Mickey is too small to ride, but that does not stop this furry little creature from spreading joy. Several times a month, we load up and head out to visit four local nursing homes. Mal and Mickey spend hours visiting and wandering the halls. It is such a rewarding feeling for us when we hear the residents laughing and see them rolling down the hall in their wheelchairs to follow the little girl and her pony. It is truly a sight to see. How it warms your heart.
Back at the ranch, Mal and Mickey are always playing. They play their version of chase, called “I’m gonna get you!” Sometimes she sneaks him in the house to watch television. (Like we are not going to notice a pony in the living room.) Or we find her in the barn late at night in her pajamas, giving him the latest hair style, which he seems to always be embarrassed by, but lets her do it anyway. He knows it makes her happy. HE makes her happy. And that is what it is all about!
Mallory and Madeline are little girls with special hearts and Mickey is a gift from angels. We are blessed that he is allowed to live at our house. A place we call……………….
“Angel Heart Ranch”
We at PERSONAL PONIES are repeatedly amazed at the courage of the children with whom we place our ponies, but we have been especially touched by Jared Wulfekuhle's charm and determination. He is an inspiration to all who know him and we are delighted that his family has agreed to represent PPL in activities in their community and to serve as our Theme Child for 2003.
We at PERSONAL PONIES are repeatedly amazed at the courage of the children with whom we place our ponies, but we have been especially touched by Taisha Bakker's love of life and indomitable spirit. She is an inspiration to all who know her and we are delighted that she has agreed to represent PPL in activities in her community and to serve as our Poster Girl for 2002.