OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - Golfers, mark your calendars for October 24.
WTVM is delighted to sponsor the Storybook Scramble at Grand National along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
The charity golf tournament is raising money for Opelika's Storybook Farm, where dreams are coming true for hundreds of children with special needs through the love of horses.
Hope on Horseback: this is the mission of Storybook Farm.
"Hope on Horseback is a program designed to build up and encourage and foster love and support for families and children that are challenged in many different ways," said founder Dena Little. "Kids that have mental physical, emotional or social challenges."
Dena Little founded Storybook farm in 2002 with three ponies and three riders.
Today, more than 900 children with special needs and their families ride and receive equine therapy at the Opelika horse farm every year.
"We feel that this is a ministry, and with that being said, the services will always be provided at no cost," she said. "Many of our families would not have an opportunity to ride, if we charged."
Little has witnessed miracles when a child and an animal bond.
"I think the horses have an innate sense to understand the struggles and the challenges that child is facing and they are quiet calm and patient. And for them to get up and ride, especially the children that don't have good mobility and can't get around or keep up, the horse becomes their legs and they are able to have freedom and independence away from their walker or wheel chair."
Little said children gain confidence and freedom on top of a horse. Plus, the exercise helps them physically feel better, with less pain and more mobility.
"For kids that have very spastic and tight muscles, they are able to rehabilitate and their muscles start to lengthen and relax from riding on a horse that has a low suspension and an easy gait; in contrast, children who do need a little more strengthening in the muscles get a horse that has a higher suspension to help energize that muscle groups."
Again, Storybook Farm is free to the families who need it, so the faith-based farm relies on donations to fund the $275,000 a year operation.
This year, WTVM is proud to join with Robert Trent Jones to sponsor a four-man Storybook Scramble at beautiful Grand National in Opelika on October 24.
You can log onto our website, wtvm.com, or visit http://story-book-farm.org/ for more information.
All proceeds will go to Storybook Farm, to help them help children have as many happily ever afters as possible.