Saturday, January 24, 2015

Kid Heroes For Animals: Amazing Young Girl Uses Horses to Help kids with Disabilities

Kid Heroes For Animals Series

I know this story is not recent, but I thought I'd share it anyway because it is so inspiring and makes you smile!  It is so very kind of Pandora to be brightening the lives of kids who have disabilities.  I love reading stories about kids helping other kids through animals, it is inspiring! ~Declan

The sick little girl saving horses to brighten lives of kids with disabilities

Pandora with a horse she helped rescue.
Pandora Humphries suffers a mysterious and debilitating disease that causes her red blood cells to attack each other and not regenerate. As her mother Amber Hendry and her step-father Anthony Swords explain, Pandora's love affair with a pony named Bella has helped save unwanted racehorses from the knackery and brought joy to dozens of children with disabilities.

My daughter Pandora is a beautiful girl. She's nine and weighs just 19 kilograms but she has a heart as big as the world. 

In 2006, when she was two, Pandora had a bone marrow transplant. She was immune-compromised when she was a baby with haemolytic anaemia, which caused her red blood cells to attack and destroy each other. 

She spent her first two years of life in hospital with cardiac and respiratory problems and needed a blood transfusion almost every day. 

Doctors don't know why this is happening and so she remains undiagnosed. I call it Pandora's Box Syndrome. 

When Pandora was six, she had the bone age of a two-year-old. Today she is a totally different child. Now she has the bone age of an eight-year-old, so she's only one year behind. 

She is still small and doesn't gain weight like other nine-year-olds but she's a bright, bubbly kid. We love people who give blood because without them, I wouldn't have my daughter. 

For Pandora's eighth birthday, we bought her a white Welsh pony named Bella. She loves horses. 

Pandora with her mother Amber, stepfather Anthony and stepbrother.

Pandora, her pony Bella and some We Were Champions volunteers.

Soon after she got a place in the local Riding for the Disabled program. 
Pandora decided to give her place to another child. She said: "Mum, I can walk and I can talk. I want someone who really needs it to have my place".

Pandora also wanted to share her pony with the other kids she had met at the hospital. That touched me. 

I'm her stepdad and I wasn't around when she spent all her time in hospital but what she's been through breaks my heart. 

We noticed that having a pony was having a positive effect on Pandora. She seemed to grow and catch up with the other kids when she was around horses. She has a horse whisperer personality around them. 

At the same time we heard about how racehorses were often sold off at the end of their careers. A lot of times they end up being bought for the slaughterhouse. 

By this time, because of Pandora, I was a real horse lover and I thought maybe we could save some of them. 

I called up some family and friends and we decided that we could do something that might help both the racehorses and the disabled and sick kids that we knew. We started We Were Champions. 

I went along to a horse sale. I intended to buy a horse. I came back with three. We invited the kids from the hospital out to our property. 

You can't imagine the joy they get from being on a horse for the first time. I'm a pretty big fella and I work in the debt collection business. But I don't care how tough you are, you can't see those smiles and not shed a tear. 

We have kids with Tourette's Syndrome, autism and all kinds of conditions. And they are all different people when they are in a paddock with a horse. 

Today, we have 19 racehorses, a couple of ponies as well as Pandora's pony Bella and Amber's horse. When we started We Were Champions, it was just our family and friends. 

Today, we have more than 10,000 members and we're waiting for approval as a registered charity. 
Every weekend we have car loads of kids out here, all with smiles because they're on the back of horse. And none of it would have happened if it hadn't been for Pandora and that big heart of hers. 

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