Overcoming Cerebral Palsy // 2013 Shea Center Gala

One of the most enjoyable and inspiring shooting experiences of the year is at The J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, where therapeutic horse-related programs are utilized to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Each year a client is chosen to have their story told; to inspire, encourage, raise awareness and funding for the center and its clients. I get to work with a fantastic team of people led by Executive Director Dana Butler-Moburg.

This year we tell Alyna’s story, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at nine months of age. Since there is currently no cure for cerebral palsy, the goal for the individual is to become as independent as possible.

“When Alyna started riding, she was unable to sit up and could not lift her head. In the time she has been riding at the Center, her trunk strength has increased dramatically and she can now sit up straight on the horse, hold her head up, balance, and wave her arms in the air. Because riding relaxes Alyna’s muscles and improves the mobility of her hips and legs, she can now take steps with assistance. Alyna is non-verbal, but now vocalizes in reaction to the horse’s movement and smiles and laughs when the side walkers sing songs to her. When asked, the doctors could not tell if Alyna would ever walk. After seeing the progress Alyna has made, Adriana says, “Words cannot express the hope The Shea Center has given our family.”

This video debuted at The Art of Shea, Performance in Motion Gala Event in May of 2013. It was nothing short of inspiring, and hopefully played a small part in moving people into action with their time, talent, and treasure.

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