Tucked in the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains, some pediatric patients treated at HackensackUMC ride horses, learn about beekeeping, and leave their mark in the form of handprints on fence boards dotting a Mahwah, New Jersey farm. It is home to Pony Power Therapies, a nonprofit providing therapeutic riding and other horse-assisted activities to special needs and at-risk populations.
“Gabriella loves Pony Power,” Elaina said of her 8-year-old daughter. Diagnosed with leukemia in kindergarten, Gabriella’s treatment ended weeks before her Pony Power experience began. “It’s a great program,” Elaina said. “Siblings have a chance to share the experience and given what Gabby went through, it’s good to know that we can be together in this way as a family.”
Gabriella was treated for high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia with intensive chemotherapy for a year and then maintenance chemotherapy for another 18 months. Chemotherapy can affect balance, coordination and energy levels. A program like Pony Power helps patients regain their confidence and enjoyment of physical activity.
Two summer sessions were funded through the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation with a portion of the proceeds from the 2015 Susan Zabransky Hughes Memorial 5K Run/Walk.