Callan's Story

Callan's story shared at the 214 Shea Center BBQ & Family Faire.
Brads Story

Watch Brad's amazing story shown at our 2014 Gala.
Alyna's Story - Watch Alyna's video online.
Alynas Story

Alyna's amazing story was shared at our 2013 Gala.
Watch a video about The Shea Center and therapeutic riding: Learn about therapeutic riding
Watch Lillian's video online: Lillian's Story

Yea, she did it! When Lillian was featured in the Shea Center Facebook Spotlight in January 2011, we were hoping she might be walking independently by her fourth birthday. She now crosses the room to get her toys and walks from room to room with very little assistance. She is starting to initiate play with other children, pedals a tricycle, and is learning to steer it.

Her mother, Kristin, reports that Lillian is braver, has gained confidence, and has more endurance. Additionally, she understands more words and makes sounds to communicate. Congratulations, Lillian. Were proud of you!

Cade's Story: Expect A Miracle

Cade's amazing story was shared at our 2012 Gala.
Maddie's story presented at the 2011 Sheafari Gala. Maddie's story presented at the 2011 Sheafari Gala. Select the following link to view video: Maddie's Story
Brianna's story presented at the 2010 La Vida Shea Gala. Select the following link to view video: Brianna's Story
Watch Charlie's story "Building Futures" Link to video: Charlie's Story

Adam Wolf drew a picture of himself at school the other day. That's a pretty typical activity for an 8 year-old child. Children draw all kinds of pictures of themselves running, playing or doing some other activity - their whole bodies in motion and acknowledged. Except for Adam. He only used to draw his upper body, ignoring his legs and the wheelchair he uses to get around. His mother and teacher realized that this is how he has seen himself - from the waist up.

But, after several months of Shea Center physical therapy, hippotherapy that required him to use his legs, he did something hes never done; he drew a picture of his whole body with legs. For the very first time he saw himself as a whole person and his family is convinced that it's due to his physical therapy work at The Shea Center.

Adam is the second born from a set of quadruplets. His parents noticed rather early on that Adam's two brothers and sister were meeting developmental milestones while Adam was not. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was one year old.

Despite his disability, Adam has grown into a confident boy with a winning smile. He laughs easily with a sparkle in his eye that speaks of one wise beyond his years. His recent school essay about a favorite hero was about his mom because, "She's getting me a therapy dog and because she takes me to horseback riding at The Shea Center."

In a physical therapy session on horseback, Adam will ride sideways - it builds trunk muscles. Or maybe he'll sit backwards on the horse and throw a ball back and forth to his therapist while the horse walks - this makes his back "sit up" and balances on his own to throw the ball. Through his work at The Shea Center, Adam has built his core stomach and back muscles to support his body on horseback. The movement of the horse is used by the Shea staff to help Adam build strength, balance and self-esteem at the Center, which translates into progress at home with everyday activities. What may seem like small steps are in fact huge milestones.

Adam now stands on his own to brush his teeth. He stands around the breakfast table talking to his mom. He stood on the scale to be weighed at the doctor's office last month for the first time. Seemingly small steps, but in fact, they are giant steps requiring Adam to use his legs and view himself with a whole body.

"He's a different person," his mom explains. She went on, "The confidence and self-esteem he shows now in everyday activities and new accomplishments is just phenomenal." In fact, the whole family (all nine of them) comments on how unusual it is to see Adam upright and not always in a wheelchair. Adam is continuing to reach the goals that are set for him each week at The Shea Center. The Wolfs consider the Center staff and volunteers as family and are extremely grateful for the dedication they've shown Adam.

Watch Adam's speech at the 2010 Shea Center Annual BBQ. Adam's Speech
We have been coming to the Shea Center for just over 2 years. Our daughter, Emma Foley, has Rett Syndrome. This neurodevelopmental disease has robbed her of her ability to speak, use her hands or control her body movements with purpose. She communicates to us with eye gaze but is completely dependent on us for all her basic needs.

Emma started riding at the Shea Center at age two. At that time she could not walk, and that was one of our main goals of her therapy. About one year later Emma took her first steps, and now another year after that her walking is becoming stronger and more stable. We feel that her hippotherapy was instrumental in developing her ability to walk. In addition, her time on her horse camouflages the therapy that she needs and makes it fun. Emma has different therapies on four days each week, so making it fun and social is imperative and riding does that. Emma is very social and loves to interact with the volunteers and other children at the Center. She looks forward to her weekly trip to The Shea Center. All of this would not be possible without your support. We thank you from our family to yours.

Sincerely,

The Foley Family

Kevin, Allison, Emma and Abigail
I have a daughter that is 10 years old and has been a rider at The Shea Center for 2 years now. My daughter has a learning disability. Before we found The Shea Center my daughter had a difficult time. We tried all the typical activities little girls do: dance, ballet, gymnastics, cheer, soccer, Brownies, etc. It was always the same; she would be so excited to go and be with the other little girls and wear her tutu or uniform. She would go to two or three classes and realize she could not keep up or do the same as the other children and the children would stop including her. She would not want to go back; she would have a stomach ache or didn't feel well or sometimes just cry and plead with me not to have to go.

One day I got something in the mail about The Shea Center. They invited her to try out horseback riding. Of course she was excited to ride horses, as she always is. After doing the first session she loved it. She was making friends and becoming more and more confident. It was also helping her balance and coordination so we signed up for the next session and so on.

Now I have a child who has found something she loves and can be proud of. She brings the ribbons she wins at the competitions to school for show and tell. She proudly displays all her ribbons in her room. The Shea Center has built up my daughter's confidence which has changed her disposition at school too. My daughter goes to a school that specializes in children with dyslexia. The biggest problem they had with her was she would not participate. She would lay her head on the table and just shut down. Now she is participating in class and even raising her hand to answer questions. She no longer lays her head on the table or shuts down. Of course, once a child engages in learning they start to learn. I am very thankful for The Shea Center and everything they have done for my daughter.

Thank-you,
Karen Ho
A brain injury at the age of six left our beautiful daughter, Bryn, severely disabled. Overnight our charming and bright kindergartner was left unable to walk or speak. We embarked on a quest for healing through therapy, medication, surgery, alternative treatments...on and on. A friend told us about the Fran Joswick Therapeutic Riding Center, but we never imaged that Bryn would qualify to ride. With vision impairment, spastic muscles, seizures, how could she ride a horse? Nevertheless, after talking with our pediatrician and the therapist at the Center, we decided to give it a try.

That was nine years ago. At first, Bryn participated one-on-one with a physical therapist, and eventually graduated to a small group class. Although we can't say that she miraculously began walking and talking, her weekly sessions helped her in so many ways...improved trunk control, tolerating the helmet, better balance, holding her head up, stretching, etc. She loves it, and unlike many therapies, it's FUN! We are very grateful to the Center for providing a wonderful, safe and therapeutic program for Bryn and so many disabled adults and children.

The Cabanillas Family
The Shea Center has been wonderful for my son Ian. He looks forward to his weekly lessons and loves to talk about the horses. He has communication issues and riding provides him with the opportunity to share his thoughts. Riding has also helped Ian with reducing his anxiety. The horses are very calming. Most importantly, riding has helped Ian to continue to develop his ability to respond to commands and to remember appropriate actions, such as telling the horse to "Walk On". We are very thankful that The Shea Center is available to Ian.
The Shea Center has changed so much with all it's improvements but with your help the completion of the construction will soon be a dream come true. My daughter Melissa has been riding at The Shea Center since she was about 12 years old. She is now 25 and her weekly rides are still the "highlight" of her life.

Melissa has cerebral palsy and is non-ambulatory but with the help of the wonderful horses that she has ridden through the years she can experience movement that she otherwise would never even dream of. Melissa spent many years of daily trips for traditional physical therapy with really very little improvement. As soon as she discovered "Horse Therapy" she began to change not only physically but mentally also. The movement of the horse has helped to strengthen her body and the challenge has improved her self confidence greatly.

Our family has lived all over the country and because of that Melissa has participated in many different horse therapy centers. Trust me when I say that there is NO comparison to the J.F. Shea Center and we are so glad to be back living in southern California. As a parent I am very grateful knowing that Melissa is being treated by such experienced professionals and caring volunteers.

Thank you so much for all your support.

DeeAnne Piccinati