My name is Bette Shipley. My sole inspiration for Riding On Angels' Wings has been my son DJ. DJ was born with Congenital Heart defects and Cerebral Palsy. Through all of the hard times we have had endured, I have truly learned that behind every cloud you will find a very amazing ray of hope!
One of my dreams for my son and I was to ride horse together. I have always held a love for horses, so it was natural for me to "assume" that would be part of our life. I did not expect the road we would take to get there, but we are achieving our dream! Though it takes some creative thinking and extra hands to get ready to ride, DJ and I still "ride on." Not only have I found the enjoyment, the relaxation and freedom it brings to DJ, but I have also found how it benefits him therapeutically. After seeing the joy horseback riding could bring to DJ, I deeply wanted to share this with other children who have special needs.
So the dream began! In the summer of 2002, along with two therapists, "Riding On Angels' Wings" began to take shape. We had seven riders to share the dream and a handful of volunteers. As 2003 approached, with great efforts from family, friends and newly acquired friends, we were able to offer the benefits to 17 riders. 2004 raced upon us bringing about the REALITY of the dream. Since 2004, we have more than doubled our rider and volunteer numbers. With the dream continuing to grow, so comes the growing pains! We are dealing with increased rider numbers, waiting lists, staffing positions, operating costs and marketing costs.
Though the challenges are increasing throughout the program, just one look at the riders faces tells me that it is ALL WORTH IIT! THE SMILES, GESTURES AND UNCONDITIONAL LOVE they show fulfills each day for me.
The program's name "Riding On Angels' Wings" comes from the experiences in DJ's life and what they have taught me. That is, that every person with a disability endures many obstacles in their lives, yet they face them with the faith, courage and strength of an angel. In the past 16 years of DJ's life, I have learned that angels will come to you in the strangest places and with the smallest faces! God bless them all!