Evan’s Full Story

by Nov 26, 20210 comments


Here is Evan’s full story from his mom, Sonia:


Our son Evan began his journey at Forward Stride in early 2011 at the tender age of 3 in the hippotherapy program, now known as Rehabilitation Services. At the time Evan was facing multiple medical, physical, and developmental challenges. After a daunting diagnosis of complex congenital heart disease he was slowly recovering from emergency open heart surgery and, in turn, urgently needed help with both his fine and gross motor skills. Unfortunately, Evan repeatedly struggled and ultimately failed in traditional occupational and physical therapy settings. As a family we were desperate for some skilled guidance in an alternative therapeutic setting. When we learned about Forward Stride and all they had to offer, we suspected it could be a great fit for our animal-loving son. We signed up, leaned in, and promptly witnessed Evan achieve multiple developmental goals at Forward Stride with truly measurable results. We were handed one miracle after another! Evan’s self confidence and pure joy absolutely soared among the ponies and their passionate people. It was immediately clear landing at Forward Stride was the best decision we as parents had ever made on his behalf.  Almost eleven years later, we still firmly believe this to be true.


In the summer of 2012, Evan successfully graduated from the Rehabilitation Services program and excitedly transitioned into the Riding Program. Though Evan faces ongoing medical, communication, and developmental challenges, he was warmly welcomed and continues to be taught by our dear friend and Forward Stride instructor, Pati Nelson. Pati’s formidable skillset and diverse expertise make her an ideal match for Evan as he continues to gain the fine skills of independent riding.  A truly remarkable and elite teacher!  Indeed, Pati and so many others at Forward Stride have been skilled and devoted friends to our little family like no others over the last decade.


We continue to marvel at the commitment of the volunteer team at Forward Stride; it is truly unmatched.  From the very beginning, Evan’s very own volunteer buddy Jan has driven all the way from the coast to Forward Stride to help out at most of his lessons.  We think of both Pati and Jan as trusted family members, and are just so very thankful for them and the greater community that is Forward Stride. As he now maneuvers through the trials of high school, Evan particularly benefits and learns from these special friendships and guiding mentors, and he deeply appreciates and cherishes them all. 


Forward Stride continues to be a safe sanctuary where Evan can land and learn. It’s clear to us that he is committed to his journey and justifiably proud of his achievements. Since Evan is unable to participate in traditional team sports, we so appreciate the opportunity for him to get some legitimate and demanding exercise on horseback as he continues to learn and grow. 


The life skills and values he has gained on his journey are countless, but to our family we believe responsibility, the love of and respect for animals and an unwavering commitment to fostering community are key. Evan is now an active and stellar student and recognized as a committed service leader in his various school and community circles–We have no doubt Forward Stride has directly contributed to his successes. He understands teamwork and hard work pays off!


Our family would dearly love to see Forward Stride continue to grow and thrive and meet the diverse needs of many. We find it easy to share our own story and champion all that is Forward Stride. More importantly, we believe in making the continual and concerted effort to actively support this wonderfully effective and inspiring community of dedicated volunteers and supremely skilled professionals. 


So many years ago our team at Forward Stride handed us HOPE. It can be such a rare and elusive gift…  Years later we watch as that hope continues to be realized into fruition and is it ever a profoundly beautiful and mighty sight to behold!


We must share that we are indeed proud of our Evan and our entire Forward Stride community– and just so very, very thankful.  And we are honored to pay it all forward the best we possibly can.


Bless you Forward Stride.


The Happiest of trails to all –

The Redmond Family,

Sonia, Eric & Evan

Forward Stride never charges the true cost of our programs to keep our services as accessible as possible. The true cost of a riding lesson is $151. We charge $50 for a private, half-hour lesson. A donation of $101 covers the remaining cost of that Riding Program session. Give today to allow us to continue offering our programs at an affordable rate.