Mini & Pony
Miniature therapy horses Mozart and Cloudburst went to visit a young man named Joseph with Pompe disease who was in the hospital participating in a painful clinical trial. The trial could one day help young children. Joseph had dreamed of meeting a real horse but had never seen one in person before that day. When Mozart saw Joseph he walked over on his own and gently put his head in the young man's lap. They stayed there together and after a few minutes Mozart just closed his eyes, ignoring everything going on around them. He refused to move away from Joseph, something he had never done before, except to walk along with him next to the wheelchair. He stayed with his head resting in Joseph's lap for over a half hour until it was time for the young man to return to his room.
Several days ago Joseph wrote about Mozart in a letter that was shared Facebook with photos of their time together. People from around the world were inspired by the brave young man and the special horse and began sending messages to Joseph and Mozart. By the next morning thousands of people had heard and responded, from North Pole, Alaska to Texas, California to Maine, South Africa, Bulgaria, Ireland, Sweden, Argentina, Australia, India, France, Finland, Germany, Canada, England, Thailand, the Philippines, Egypt, Nairobi, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Indonesia, New Zealand, Spain, Brazil, Uruguay, French West Indies, Greece, Kenya, Italy and more. The messages of encouragement continue to arrive.
Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses visit over 18,000 adults and children each year.
This is Joseph's letter:
My name is Joseph W____ and I have Pompe disease. Pompe disease is a neuro-muscular disease that is a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. Because my body is missing a certain enzyme (alpha-glucosidase), glycogen builds up around my muscles causing them to weaken. I am in a wheelchair, have a feeding tube, and use a ventilator. I have bi-weekly infusions of a drug called Lumizyme that helps halt the progression of the disease. Recently, at the University of Florida, I participated in a clinical trial where they injected a gene replacement into my diaphragm hoping to regenerate the muscles. This is still an ongoing trial. Hopefully, from the data they receive, Pompe disease will be controlled with a single shot at birth. This is a long time away though.
I have always loved animals. Ever since I have seen the movie Seabiscuit, I have wanted to see a real horse. A friend of mine told me about Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. I visited the website and looked at it on Facebook. I fell in love with a horse named Mozart in the pictures. Since I am in a clinical trial, I had to travel to Florida which is where Gentle Carousel is located. My mom talked to them and agreed that we could meet one afternoon while I was there.
The first day I was in Gainesville was a rough day. There were lots of tests; a MRI, physical therapy evals, blood, etc. Also, I was really nervous about the next day of testing. After testing was done my family and I went to see Mozart and Cloudburst. They were both beautiful horses! As soon as I saw them I forgot all about the tests and how rough the day had been. All I knew was that I wanted to pet both of them. Amazingly, Mozart seemed to love me right away. He came right up to me and put his head in my lap as if to say "Don't worry Joseph, I'll be your friend". Mozart stayed with his head in my lap as we talked with everybody and I petted him. Cloudburst put his head on Mozart's back and we stayed that way for a while. I know that animals have a special sense about people and Mozart showed me that. I will always remember that day and the friend I made with Mozart.
Thanks to the people at Gentle Carousel for making that day possible. Mozart and I will always be friends and I hope to see him again soon!
Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses
An all volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity
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