At age 15, I co-founded Drop Your Reins, an equine experiential learning program in an environment that invites open communication, personal reflection, and progressive alternatives for ADD/ADHD and autistic diagnosed children (as well as for those who support them). I traveled to farms and riding barns to give clinics and share my program. The program quickly gained international awareness due to the many radio interviews and articles written about my work. I was asked to speak about my program at Rotary, other entrepreneur summits, and schools. I was interviewed by physicians and psychologists and asked to lead programs for them incorporating horses into their practices.
In 2010, one day while riding my horse, I had an accident. On the outside, the injuries didn’t appear severe, but lurking inside was the beginning of my nightmare. I spent over 75 days that year in the hospital and continue to be hospitalized frequently while my little-understood illness still baffles the medical community.
I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. RSD is a debilitating, chronic disease, which leaves patients not only in excruciating pain (higher pain levels than bone cancer pain), but is also a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system so it can affect any internal organs and can be fatal. There is no cure and it is still a mystery to researchers, who have many different theories. The illness affects predominately females and many in their teen years. A wonderful resource of information is at www.rsdsa.org.
My mom and I are setting up a foundation to raise awareness so that others can be diagnosed quickly, find knowledgeable physicians, and have access to compassionate, caring and supportive advocates, as well as resources to help aid the family in their time of need.
My dream is to open a Drop Your Reins Healing Center where my work with horses can continue. The center will be open to adults and children with chronic illnesses such as CRPS and Dysautonomia, along with their families/caregivers, all of whom can come to find love from a compassionate and caring staff where they are treated with humility and dignity.
I have been dedicated to helping humans and horses my entire life and continue—even through illness—finding ways of turning my fears and challenges into rewarding ways to give to others.
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