Featured Story: Lily

On this Giving Tuesday, we are proud to share with you the story of Lily. After you have read about how Forward Stride is making a difference in her life, please consider supporting our programs with a donation.

From Lily’s mother, Christina:

When I first received my daughter’s diagnosis of an unbalanced chromosome translocation (6q26/27), I was confused and distraught. She received this diagnosis during her first week of life and I was extremely anxious about what it would mean for her future. Since that first week of her life with all those unknowns, Lily has accomplished far more than I expected. She is quite clever, with a great sense of humor, and most importantly, strong, in both body and spirit! She walks with assistance, speaks in full sentences, and can hold a boat pose longer than most yogis. Forward Stride is where all of these wonderful attributes are challenged on a weekly basis. No one makes Lily work harder than Sheila and I love it! Her week over week improvement is nothing short of remarkable, due to the hard work of Sheila, Heidi and the team of extraordinary volunteers. This is a child who could barely sit 2 years ago and is now standing on a horse (with assistance!).

We initially heard about Forward Stride from a developmental pediatrician at Doernbecher, who recommended horse therapy to help Lily work on her balance. It has certainly helped her balance, but in addition to that, she has learned to speak quite well. One of her first words was “GO!” and it still remains one of her favorites. Not only is Sheila a brilliant physical therapist who is knowledgeable about so many topics, but there is something unique that equine assisted therapy provides its patients. It offers training in verbal and physical skills and empowers children. Lily is in preschool and is unable to do so much of what her peers can do. However, every week when Lily gets ready to leave school to ride Thistle, she can proudly leave the classroom because now she is going to ride a horse, which is something not many other 4 year old children know how to do.

It has been such a pleasure for me to accompany Lily to Forward Stride for the past two years and it is the activity that I look most forward to during my week. Lily does such a great job, learns so much, and I love seeing her improve each session. We are also in a beautiful setting surrounding by such kind, giving people. Finally, I try to soak up every bit of knowledge I can get from Sheila. We truly are lucky. I am a part of a special needs group at my employer and I have heard other members of the group talk about their strong desire to have their special needs child start therapy at Forward Stride but due to the high demand, they are on a long waitlist. I urge anyone who has any extra means to consider a donation so those children too can benefit from Forward Stride. So many of us are fortunate to not need extra therapies to help us meet our full potential, but for those of us who do need that extra help, Forward Stride is a special place.


In an effort to make these effective and meaningful treatment options accessible to as many as possible, we do not charge a fee that covers the full cost to us as an organization. While we charge $126 per session, the actual cost is $213. This means that $87 of every session must be covered by the generosity of our community of donors. We invite you to join this community with a donation today. A donation of $350 would cover that extra cost for four sessions.