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Seraphina Paden on The Today Show

The connection of horses and people can create miracles!  We could not have been more proud to have our Kat Blue bow set featured! 
Launching Neighbors Helping Neighbors, The Today Show visited Sunnyside Equestrian Center's SPUR (Special People United to Ride), a non-profit organization that serves individuals with the physical and mental disabilities through horseback riding lessons. To highlight the impact of the incredible work of the volunteers and staff members at the farm, the incredible story of Seraphina Paden was shared.
From the outside, Seraphina Paden looks like your average horse loving eight year old. Her long braids are secured with horse print ribbons; her riding shirt is tucked neatly into her breeches. She confidently leads therapy horse Sunny around the paddock. From the outside, it's hard to believe the journey that has lead Seraphina to Special People United Ride (SPUR) at Sunnyside Recreation Center in Lincroft. 

In addition to needing life-saving airway surgery as an infant, Seraphina suffers from a severe form of occipital epilepsy. Despite countless doctor visits, hospitalizations and medications, in the summer of 2016 Seraphina's seizures were still not under control. "We needed a miracle," says Seraphina's mother, Stephanie. "We were facing another hospitalization." The effects of Seraphina's seizures were leaving her exhausted, upset and unable to complete the simplest of tasks, like writing her name.

In November of 2016, Seraphina had her first therapeutic horsemanship lesson at SPUR. Her PATH Certified Instructor Emily Caton was the miracle Seraphina's family had been praying for. Week after week, Seraphina's family saw an immense improvement in her self-esteem, social skills and in her overall physical strength. And then, Seraphina's health took an incredible turn. Her seizures drastically reduced. "We couldn't believe it. Her doctors couldn't believe it. Each week we were witnessing a miracle within those barn walls," says Stephanie.


SPUR's support and dedication to providing Seraphina with the opportunity to achieve personal goals through therapeutic horsemanship didn't stop when financial hardship hit her family. The SPUR Board of Directorsgranted Seraphina with a full scholarship in 2017. The Scholarship Fund at SPUR provides more than $40,000.00 in financial aid annually for qualifying SPUR students.

Stephanie concludes, "To the Monmouth County Parks System, thank you for providing such a beneficial program in our community. To the SPUR volunteers, instructors, barn staff, Board of Directors and donors, thank you. The work you are all doing is needed and very much appreciated. You are changing lives, one trail walk at a time."