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Anthony & Olivia

It certainly is true that weekly hippotherapy sessions at the Midwest Center for Children’s Development in Crystal Lake, Illinois are strengthening muscles and improving coordination for Olivia and Anthony, twin nine-year-olds, who were born prematurely and with cerebral palsy. But, said parents Mariola and Gary, this therapy, by strengthening abdominal muscles and deepening breathing, is improving their children’s speech, as well. For Olivia, who already speaks well – and often -- the therapy is improving her strength, which in turn clears the way for her to speak longer, and more extended sentences. For Anthony, who understands English and Polish, the therapy provides an opportunity to expand limited speech. Both children are intent on advancing their communications, said their mother, “MCCD support is helping them have a voice.”

Jake & Alyssa

When a medical insurer claimed “hygiene is not a medical condition” in denying payment toward a bath chair for Alyssa, MCCD stepped up to pay for the equipment. The 10-year-old twins of parents, Jim and Susan, both deal with forms of cerebral palsy. Jake has mild hemiplegia cerebral palsy, and has made such dramatic advances in recent months that MCCD-sponsored physical therapy has come to an end. Alyssa, who has more involved spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair. MCCD-sponsored hippotherapy, aboard a horse named Rowdy, is providing needed strengthening of Alyssa’s upper body.
“She’s just blossoming.” her mother reports.



A 4-year-old boy inflicted with C.H.A.R.G.E. Syndrome. CHARGE Syndrome refers to children with a specific set of birth defects. 'CHARGE' originally came from the first letter of some of the most common features seen in children with this syndrome.

C =coloboma and cranialnerves
H = heart defects
A = atresia of the choanae
R = retardation of growth and development
G = genital and urinaryabnormalities
E = ear abnormalities and/or hearing loss

MCCD has helped Michael's parents with medical bills and weekly Hippotherapy sessions not covered by his family's insurance.



It was by watching a local television news story four years ago that the parents of Max, 7, learned of the services offered by MCCD. Now, with several years of therapeutic horseback riding at the Equestrian Connection under his cowboy-inscribed belt, Max has gained the upper body muscle strength necessary to sit on the floor – unassisted, with legs out in front of him, and hands on his knees. Max deals with Canavan’s disease, a rare and degenerative nerve disorder that affects brain development and produces a break in signals from brain to muscles. Max’s parents, Ilyce and Michael, say, “Being able to sit up better situates Max to more fully engage in play with his friends.” The assistance made available by MCCD additionally makes more traditional therapies possible where family medical insurance leaves off. His parents have said:

“The MCCD-sponsored therapy is the same thing as saving Max’s life.”


Katelyn & Brianna


When they were born, twins Katelyn and Brianna together weighed in at four pounds, 13 ounces. Now four years later, the two girls have undergone multiple surgeries to address significant problems brought on by premature birth. Brianna has had trachea surgery; while Katelyn has had surgery for a damaged trachea, cleft lip and palate, and heart abnormalities. In addition to paying for various ongoing physical therapies, MCCD has provided support by covering medical bills not paid by the family’s medical insurance. Said parents, Vicki and Greg:

“We wouldn’t be able to provide our daughters with therapy without MCCD.”



A 21-year-old boy battling Cystic Fibrosis. In addition to daily Physical Therapy sessions, Aaron’s challenge is to intake 3500+ calories a day to fight the Cystic Fibrosis – a challenge further complicated by Aaron’s diabetes, which prevents him from eating fats or sugars. At 21-years-old, Aaron’s weight is only 95 pounds. Thanks to your contributions, he now receives the many costly nutritional supplements he requires every day, as well as, Physical Therapy equipment necessary to maintain his fight.


Weekly Equine-Assisted Therapy and speech therapy has produced two breakthroughs for five-year-old Rachel during the past year, say her parents, Ron and Holly. Rachel has chromosome 10 deletion syndrome, a rare condition that causes motor and brain disabilities and makes it a challenge for her brain to plan out muscle movements. But Rachel’s two MCCD-supported therapies are providing her with opportunities to experience normal sensory input and muscle movements. As a result, Rachel has gained the ability to chew solid food and is gaining the ability to take her first tentative steps. “She still is unstable and falls a lot, but she’s walking better every day” says her proud mother.


A 4-year-old girl born with Apert Syndrome, a rare craniofacial disorder that affects only 1 in 160,000 people. Major symptoms include fingers and toes which are fused together in single masses and plates of the skull that are fused together prematurely. Children born with Apert Syndrome endure dozens of surgeries during their first few years of life. This year, MCCD provided Miranda with Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapies not covered by her family’s insurance.



Bryan is a 13-year-old autistic boy with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and a mild form of Cerebral Palsy. Bryan speaks, but cannot read or write. He suffers from very low muscle development and has little hand strength. Bryan’s hands are so weak that he has trouble pulling up his own socks. Since MCCD has provided Bryan with Hippotherapy, his hand control, endurance and strength is better. According to Bryan's mom “He is more talkative and outgoing, clings to Mom less, grins ear to ear and sings all the way home from the stables. Bryan’s self-esteem has been increased a thousand-fold.”



Kiana is an 8-year-old twin who suffered a traumatic brain injury at the age of 8 months . She spent six days in a coma and five weeks in the hospital, including two weeks in Intensive Care. Her regimen of therapies includes Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Aqua Therapy. Since MCCD has provided Kiana with Hippotherapy, she is learning to walk more every day and her speech has improved from single words to complete sentences. Mom says Kiana really loves riding “her” horse- M&M.


For Anthony’s parents, bathing their son has become more difficult now that he is 14 and no longer a small child. Dealing with cerebral palsy, the boy was unable to accomplish the task alone. So, MCCD provided the family with an inflatable bath. It sets on Anthony’s bed and allows his parents to bathe him easily and safely without first transporting him to a bathtub or shower. MCCD also continues to assist with other supplies, including providing diapers and feeding formula for use in conjunction with Anthony’s feeding tube.


When six-year-old Monica is in a stander she is as close to independent as she can be in an upright position. The stander has accessories that firmly hold her body in place allowing her to play with toys on a tray. MCCD golf event participants should take special pleasure in Monica’s activities because it was their generosity that allowed MCCD, through it’s lending library, to equip Monica with the $5,000 stander. Monica was born with a rare genetic disorder called Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia Type 2. This is a neurologically degenerative condition of the brain that affects her motor and cognitive skills. Type 2 is characterized by a severe movement disorder known as chorea. Her parents are overjoyed that the stander is enabling Monica to strengthen her muscles, allowing her to be in an upright positionto enjoy some playful activity while working her muscles and aligning her joints.


6 year old Madison suffered a stroke in utero which affected the left side of her body. As an infant, she underwent numerous medical tests and procedures before doctors could make this diagnosis. Until June, 2004, The Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH) paid for services beyond what insurance covered, i.e. therapy, leg braces. Because of budget cuts, funding was discontinued. Thanks to the help received from BCMH, Madison has learned to walk, but she needs continued therapy as she grows. She is looking forward to participating in hippotherapy, a physical therapy that uses the movement of the horse to build muscles, improve balance, posture and mobility.


Mitchell is an 8-½ year old boy who is autistic, non-verbal and severely developmentally delayed. Despite his disabilities, Mitchell is a loving, special child that touches the hearts of everyone that meets him. “He has a magnificent smile and a contagious laugh.” Mitchell’s mom needs help with special equipment, physical and occupational therapy, respite care and other medical necessities. She has been consistently denied financial assistance because autism is not a medical diagnosis.



Michael, 6, adopted from Romania at age two, came to his parents unable to eat solid food, barely able to walk or verbalize, and even shying away from the hugs he needed. Diagnosed with autism and possibly FAS, the situation looked grim. But thanks to your generosity, Michael is receiving speech therapy, cranial-sacral therapy, respite care from a favorite teacher at the Achievement Center for Children in Cleveland, Ohio. He also receives aqua therapy and hippotherapy, using the movement of "Frosty" horse, to improve Michael's posture and balance and give him the sensory input that he craves and needs. Michael is an active little boy and much happier now, but most important...

Michael now loves hugs from Mommy and Daddy -- and hugs back!



You only need to know Ryan, 14, for a brief time to recognize his love of animals. Thus, MCCD-sponsored therapeutic horseback riding turned out to be an effective, enjoyable and very motivating way for Ryan, who has Down’s syndrome, to learn new skills, improve his balance and develop muscle tone. Saddled up on an Appaloosa named Zeus at Rhythm Therapeutic Riding in Howard’s Grove, Wisconsin, Ryan has learned to closely follow directions and to develop patience. Turning in tight circles aboard the horse, he has developed better balance. Other therapies have produced results, Ryan’s parents, Julie and Fred, say, but no other therapy has been such fun or has provided Ryan with as wide a range of treatment And then there is this side benefit: Ryan is becoming a rider of considerable skill – a skill he will be able to use and develop throughout all of his life.


During the past year, eight-year-old Brittany has gained the ability to walk independently a distance of 25 feet . . . in a swimming pool! . . in three feet of water! This remarkable advance occurred as a result of a weekly combination of water therapy and hippotherapy in Mequon, Wisconsin. Sponsored by MCCD, these therapies not only strengthened muscles, they also fortified her brain’s understanding of what her muscles could do. Affected since birth by a brain injury, static encephalopathy, Brittany deals with brain processing impairment, muscle development delays and vision weakness. Building on her developing ability to walk whilesupported in water, Brittany’s parents, Brenda and Donald, say their daughter is working to extend this ability out of the water. Recently, she even walked for a minute on a treadmill.