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"Which is *huge*" | #KiddosCan

Posted 5:03 PM by

Looking back over the past year (or two)? So are we, which is why the sweet email from Mary Grace's mom Kelli was so perfectly timed.

With Kelli's kind permission, we're sharing it so you can help celebrate the big steps that kiddo Mary Grace is taking.

Photo courtesy of Mary Grace's family

I found Mary Grace's original [Children's TherAplay] physical therapy evaluation from May 2016. At that time she was not yet walking independently and could not walk up stairs (she would crawl). She was also not jumping.

She can now walk, run, jump, and walk up stairs holding onto the rail! Mary Grace has also learned to alternate between between her right and left legs when going up the stairs, which is huge

She was very nervous about riding the horses [during the equine-assisted portion of physical therapy] at first and now will do "puppydog" and even stand on the horse! She asks about going to ride horses every day.

We are so grateful for all the help Mary Grace has received at Children's TherAplay.

Way to go Mary Grace! We're so proud of you ... and all our kiddos.

Thank you, families, for inviting us to be part of your precious children's journey. We're looking forward to very a bright 2018 with you.

#Hippotherapy #PhysicalTherapy #KiddosCan

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Yes she did! Hannah's helpful heart #kiddoshelpingkiddos

Posted 6:37 PM by

If you saw our blog earlier in the week you know that, instead of making a list of things she wanted from Santa, a young girl named Hannah asked what was on our list because she wanted to help us help children with special needs. When we told her about the holiday gifts we give the kiddos each year and the everyday items on our wish list, Hannah got right to work.

And what this young miss created is...


$1,336 of items we otherwise would’ve had to purchase. Items like fly spray for the therapy horses, markers and construction paper for the clinic, Dixie cups for thirsty families in the waiting room, holiday bags for every single child who comes for physical or occupational therapy, and even Kleenex, which we especially need right now for the happy tears resulting from Hannah’s kindness.

  • 175 Holiday Bags

  • 175 snowflake bubbles

  • 525 winter pencils

  • 175 Stress balls

  • 175 kazoos

  • 175 slap bracelets

  • 175 head boppers

  • Hannah with Thor4 large buckets

  • 3- 1 gallon horse fly spray

  • 12 sponges

  • 12 horse spray bottles

  • 3- 600 count Dixie cups

  • 3- 648 count baby wipes

  • 4-6 pack Kleenex

  • 3- 4 pack Kleenex

  • 36 hand sanitizers

  • 3- 256 count marker sets

  • 2- 48 count marker sets

  • 3-500 count colored construction paper

  • 4-50 count colored construction paper

  • 4 large buckets

Do what you can

One of our staff members includes this quote, by Sydney Smith, in the signature line of her emails: It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little — do what you can.

Just look at what one person, and one very helpful heart, can do.

Thank you Hannah. Happy holidays indeed!


All photos in this blog post courtesy of Hannah's family.

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Kiddos helping kiddos: Hannah's helpful heart

Posted 6:52 PM by

During the time of year when youngsters especially are often thinking about what they’d like to receive, we were so tickled to hear from Hannah and the Purdue Equestrian Team, both asking about ways they can give.

Hannah’s Helpful Heart Project

It started with Hannah who, as she explains on the GoFundMe page for her project:  

I am doing a genius hour project at school. I have decided to do a project based on giving back to the community. ...I have chosen to raise money to create buckets and bags of love for the children and therapy horses at The Children's TherAplay Foundation. At the foundation, they do physical therapy and occupational therapy on horseback for special needs children.  I visited the foundation yesterday and was very touched by all they do to help children with special needs.

My cousin went to this facility when he was younger which makes this project very special to me. … The horses do incredible things for the children.  I would truly appreciate your support in helping me help others!

Hannah exceeded her goal of $1,000 in donations in less than three weeks and was excited to post this update:

Photo courtesy of Hannah's family

Thank you to everyone who has donated. The donations are going to such a wonderful organization. I was able to buy 175 gift bags filled with goodies for all of the kids at The Children's TherAplay Foundation for the holidays. I cannot wait for the kids to see them. I am now starting to buy supplies for the therapists and horses. Your donations have helped me make this project possible. Thank you.

Hannah’s not the only one who’s going to be excited for the kiddos to receive their holiday gift bags. We can hardly wait to see their smiles!

Update: See what Hannah's helpful heart created. (It's amazing!)

Boilering up for the holidays

Soon after Hannah reached out to us we received another unexpected message, this time from the Purdue Equestrian Team, that made our eyes well up.

The holidays are for giving back. We have been so blessed as a self-funded team to find support in the community and we want to extend that to a program that helps so many like Children’s TherAplay does.

…In the past, we have done a "12 Days of Giving" for the team where we shared a feature item on our Amazon Wish List. This year we want to use our increasing social media following to help get Children’s TherAplay items that you guys may need or want.

Photo courtesy of Purdue University Equestrian Team

If you click to their team Facebook page you’ll see that their 12 Days of Giving is in full swing, featuring everyday items that help us do what we do best here: help kiddos with special needs live life to the fullest.

Always thankful

Thanksgiving may have been a week ago but we’re always counting our blessings, most especially these two:

  • having the opportunity to be part of these kiddos’ journeys,
  • and being part of community that fosters such giving hearts at such an early age.

Thank you Hannah, Purdue Equestrian Team, and all those who, each in their own way, make the world such a beautiful place.

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Jumping for joy | #KiddosCan

Posted 11:15 PM by

Kiddo Kellen has never jumped before. Not once. Until today.

There are many reasons why kiddos don’t jump. It could be gravitational insecurity, lack of strength, challenges with motor-planning, for example.

The whys and wherefores didn’t matter to Kellen though. He was so excited about seeing his horse that, when Miss Sue came out to get him for physical therapy, he literally jumped for joy. Right there in the lobby. And then again at the end of on-the-horse treatment time!

We’re all teasing Sue now, telling her she’s *that good* and, apparently, all she has to do is say Hello for a child to make gains – even one who’s still a new kiddo on the block! Sue just laughs and says it’s all about #PonyPower. She may be on to something there.

#EverydayIndpendenceDays #KiddosCan #Thanks-giving #Hippotherapy

(Photo: Kellan was quite disappointed about having to say goodbye to FairyTale at the end of his session. A little sensory time with Miss Sue helped set things to rights.)



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“Go Bowen! Go Bowen! Yeaaaaaah!”

Posted 1:52 PM by

One of the things we work a lot on in both physical and occupational therapies is problem-solving. Why? Because coaching will only get the kiddos so far. Think of the independence that comes when a child is able to sort through puzzles like: What happens if one of my forearm crutches is out of reach? What do I do if my arm gets trapped in my sleeve while I’m getting dressed?

Lots of steady work

Just four months ago, kiddo Bowen was completely baffled by socks and shoes. There were so many steps – hold the sock open, position it in front of your foot, pinch-pull the sock onto your foot (and that’s just for the socks!) – and so much motor-planning involved that he would, quite understandably, become frustrated and let his occupational therapist know he was ready to be done.

But with lots of steady work, Bowen has not only learned to put on his socks with minimal assistance – he still needs a little bit of help with that pinky toe – and his shoes completely on his own, he is also able to work through challenges as they occur. Now, instead of getting stuck, Bowen has developed the cognitive skills and persistence to identify and work through other options by himself to accomplish his goal.

That’s huge … and we couldn’t be more proud of our little friend. We’re going to join Bowen in one of his favorite ways of celebrating: by chanting “Go Bowen! Go Bowen! Yeaaaaaah!”  #EverydayIndependenceDay

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Look what you did (the Hoe-Down results are in!)

Posted 7:53 PM by

Because of YOU we’re able to share these words which, for a small nonprofit organization, are downright thrilling (especially because we can now say them for the third year in a row!):

You helped create the most successful Children’s TherAplay Hoe-Down. Ever. 

Why does that matter?

Because instead of trying to come up with ways to pay our bills, we can keep focusing on what we do best: helping children grow stronger and more independent through equine-assisted physical and occupational therapies. That’s huge!

What does that mean for kiddos with special needs?

Find out from kiddo Joan and his family in this brief video. It’s 160 seconds of heart.

Event highlights and resultsNew Life Skills treatment area | Are you in the 2017 Hoe-Down photo gallery? | Hats off to our sponsors! | Why do we put so much time and effort into the Hoe-Down each year?

What did you help create?

  • 650+ guests kicked up their heels to Corey Cox, sipped fine craft bourbon, bid to win in the live and silent auctions, and attempted to wrangle that mechanical bull.

  • Nearly all of our therapy horses -- all except half the sponsorship for Padre, our resident comedian -- have been funded for the year. (Let us know if you'd like be part of his funding family, to the tune of $3,900. Padre would be delighted!)

  • By covering all the Hoe-Down expenses (for the second consecutive year!) Intercontinental Real Estate’s title sponsorship ensured that all funds raised through the Hoe-Down go directly towards programs and services for the kiddos. In other words, your donation goes even further!
  • And, because of you and your great big hearts, nearly three-fourths of the Life Skills treatment area , which will help the kiddos take even greater steps towards independence, has been funded. Want to help make this area a reality for the kiddos? Pitch in today. (Be sure to note that your contribution is for the Life Skills area!)

All told, you helped raise more than $325,000 in funds + so many generous in-kind contributions, all of which will go towards helping children with special needs reach for their goals and dreams. Thank you for the huge difference you're making for these kiddos and their families.

Ever wonder why we put so much time and energy into the Hoe-Down each year?

Because equine-assisted physical and occupational therapies can be truly life-changing, and these leading-edge treatments come with a significant price tag.

To be specific, each hour of treatment costs Children’s TherAplay $225 but the average health insurance reimbursement is only $92. Contributions through the Hoe-Down help cover nearly half of that annual per-treatment funding gap so, together, we can continue to help Central Indiana children with special needs grow stronger and more independent.

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Way to go Kiddo Nikko!

Posted 9:09 PM by
You might not realize it but play is hugely important for children. In fact, it’s their #1 occupation as well as how they understand their world; develop cognitive skills like vocabulary, colors, and counting; and learn to interact with peers. Fortunately, for kiddos who need help developing these skills, occupational therapy can make a world of difference.
Just look at how far kiddo Niko has come! When he first began receiving occupational therapy, his play skills were limited to banging and throwing. So, Miss Leah began to help Niko generalize those behaviors into functional skills. Together she and Nikko would “trot” toy horses by banging them along. Niko’s propensity to throw things was shaped into putting those same horses into their barn. Slowly Leah and Niko began transferring these skills into other multi-step play sequences like stacking blocks and working puzzles.
And now the child who only played by himself is beginning to engage in social play. Niko’s whole world is opening up. Keep up the great work you two. It only gets better from here. #KudosForKiddos
(Photo: During the clinic-based portion of Niko’s occupational therapy treatment Miss Leah uses the physio ball to provide proprioceptive and vestibular input, which helps improve Niko’s self-regulation and gets his brain organized for learning.)

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7 things you need to know before the Hoe-Down starts

Posted 4:10 PM by

Howdy pardner!

Are you ready to kick up your heels and have a good time Saturday night? Glad to hear it! These seven reminders will help make your evening that much better:

  1. The good times start at 7 p.m. this Saturday. Unless you’re a VIP ticketholder. In that case, come on over at 6 p.m. for the VIP pre-party. (No early birds, ya’ll. VIP admission starts at 5:50 p.m., general admission at 6:50 p.m.)
  2. It doesn’t matter if you walk, trot, or canter to College Park Church (2606 West 96th Street), but you gotta stop there first to catch the only allowable shuttle service on our grounds. Why's that? Because we’ve worked closely with those drivers to plan out the smoothest possible flow of traffic in and out of the event.
  3. When you arrive at the Hoe-Down, give the folks at registration the name of the person who purchased your tickets and you’ll get checked in in a jiffy.
  4. Don your favorite jeans or western wear but leave your high heels at home ‘cause they sink right into the arena footing. Accessibility concerns? Send us a message or call (317) 872-4166 and ask for Breinne.
  5. Bring your fully-charged smartphone for easy in-person bidding – you did know that the silent auction is online and live now, right? – or to score yourself some top-notch bourbon, among other things.
  6. Remember: Though we’re all about the kiddos, the Hoe-Down is just for folks ages 21 and up.
  7. This one goes without saying: Have yourself a mighty fine time, ya’ll. See you Saturday!

Dream trip previews | Silent auction sneak peek | Why do your Hoe-Down ticket and your support matter? | What do a sink, a kitchen, and a restroom have to do with therapy?

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The silent auction starts online NOW!

Posted 6:57 PM by

And we’re off! The silent auction for the September 23 Hoe-Down is online and live. Here are a few favorites that you can bid on right now!

Update: The auction has concluded and all related auction links have been removed. 

Silent auction tab
Bidding on these items ends Saturday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m.

  • Item #113: Samsung Virtual Reality headgear with cinematic wide view and immersive 360-degree experience.
  • Item #129: One-week stay at a luxurious two-bedroom Beach House in Los Chonchos Eco Villiage, Mexico.
  • Item #174: Heirloom-quality portrait of your family by award-winning photographer Thomas Fallon.
  • Item #120: Four-hour ride-along with a Carmel Police Officer!

Ready, set, bid!

Instabuy tab
These items work a little differently. Marked at 20% off the standard price, these gift cards may be purchased immediately. Buy now because when they’re gone, they’re gone!

  • Item #527: A full-sized salad each month for 12 months at any Panera Bread – buy it now for $92
  • Item #525: A $100 gift certificate for Prime 47 in Carmel at Clay Terrace  – buy it now for $80
  • Item #704: Two passes (one adult, one youth) for the Children's Museum of Indianapolis  – buy it now for $34
  • Item #714: Two, one-hour jump passes at Sky Zone in Fishers – buy it now for $24

They're all online here.

Dream trips
While most silent auction items can be bid on in person at the event and online, these Dream Trips are available for bidding exclusively at Saturday’s Hoe-Down.

Take a look at what’s coming!

  • San Francisco Wine Country: Jet to the “City by the Bay” for an incredible escape to Northern California.  You'll explore the quaint streets of San Francisco and the rolling hills of the Napa Valley.
  • Alaska – The Call of the Wild: Sailing the Inside Passage, you’ll discover what life is like at the edge of our vast northern wilderness. 
  • Relax in Heavenly Hawaii: It will be swaying palm trees, cool cocktails, glistening turquoise waves lapping at the shore… all the finest for our auction winners! 

  • Italy’s Amalfi Coast: The tiny coastal towns of Amalfi, Positano and Ravello will entrance you with their spectacular views!  On the breathtaking Isle of Capri you will spend a glorious time drinking in the beauty and glamour of the island surrounded by the sparkling crystal clear blue Mediterranean! 
  • Castles of Ireland: Fields of clover, legends of leprechauns, quaint pubs where playing darts is “serious” business, and living like Kings and Queens … all this will be yours while you stay in grand Castles and elegant Manor Homes during your magical escape to emerald green Ireland. 
  • Golf at St. Andrews: Go to the place where the game of golf was born… St Andrews, Scotland.  Play the famous courses and enjoy bragging rights for the rest of your life!
  • The Wine, Wonder and Romance of France: This exciting trip for two has it all… the excitement and beauty of Paris and the romantic chateaux and vineyards of the finest wine region of France!

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What do a sink, a kitchen, and a restroom have to do with therapy?

Posted 6:53 PM by

To use them, a child must have basic skills that most folks take for granted. For example:  

  • The sensory regulation, upper extremity strength, coordination, and fine motor control required to wash their hands.
  • The core strength, pressure grading, visual motor skills, and sequencing to be able to step up on a stool, open a cabinet, pull out a cup, and fill it with water.
  • The balance, motor-planning, sequencing, body awareness, and grip strength to manage their clothing so they can use the restroom.

The majority of the children we serve rely on physical or occupational therapy at Children’s TherAplay to help them develop these skills (and more!) so they can wash their hands at school, pour themselves a glass of water at home, use the restroom wherever they are, or take any of a thousand steps towards independence.

Life Skills Treatment Area

That’s why, during the Fund-A-Need portion of the Sept. 23 Children’s TherAplay Hoe-Down – the time during this signature fundraiser when we ask our guests to help create new possibilities for the kiddos – we’ll be asking attendees to dig deep in their hearts and their wallets to help fund the new Life Skills Treatment Area.

Housed in the newly-renovated clinic, on which construction is expected to begin in 2018, the Life Skills area will allow kiddos to address during therapy the functional skills they need for life: brushing their teeth, using a fork, dressing and undressing, safely navigating their environment, using the restroom, and more.

Stay tuned for more details. With this treatment area, we can help the kiddos take even greater steps towards independence. Together.

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