Melanie, 15, has Tourette syndrome. The only time she calms is when she’s with Seymour, whom she holds by the muzzle while cooing, “You’re my best friend.” Ricky, 12, is in a wheelchair. His “security blanket” is an apartment guide he takes everywhere, except when it’s time to ride.
Melanie and Ricky are students at Heavenly Hooves, which provides equine-assisted therapy to enhance the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of individuals with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses. Heavenly Hooves hosts 60 or more students a month.
On Saturday morning, WEC delegates traveled to the Kissimmee-based nonprofit to help with several landscaping projects—including the removal of vines from a falling fence. Other volunteers ground soap at Clean the World, which collects and recycles hotel soap and shampoo for disbursement to poor communities around the world. Later in the day, delegates cuddled with puppies for Canine Companions for Independence, which raises and trains assistance dogs for people with a physical disability.
Back at Heavenly Hooves, volunteers met Munchkin, a miniature horse who travels with the organization’s Pony Express program to local hospitals and special education classes. There, Munchkin provides companionship for thousands of children. Since its launch in 2002, Heavenly Hooves has served more than 25,000 individuals.