Anyone in Utah willing to help a terminally ill teen get riding lessons?
I just read this article about a girl named Carly Davis who is dying of Ewings Sarcoma. Her "bucket list" includes taking riding lessons.
A dear friend of mine, Laura Jahnke, died of osteosarcoma in 2007. Thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation, Laura had an absolutely wonderful trip to WEF, where she was lent a horse, coached by top pros, and was able to horse show. I know it meant a great deal to her, and I would love to see Carly be able to achieve her much smaller dream of being able to take a few riding lessons.
Is there any chance the "magic of COTH" might be able to help her out?
Here is the article (emphasis on the horse stuff added by me):
Few teens relish the idea of rising early to ride the bus to school and spend all day in classes. But Carly Davis, 16, says she'll miss every minute of it, even on days she isn't feeling well.
Carly will say goodbye to Richmond's Foster High School for good on Monday. Diagnosed with incurable cancer, she's moving to Utah with her mother to begin tackling a “bucket list” of things she wants to do and places she wants to visit with her brother and divorced parents. Doctors say the teen from Fulshear has a year to get it all done.
Her classmates came together this week to help make it all happen.
Students began collecting cash donations in the cafeteria on Tuesday, said assistant principal Jodee Kruse. By Friday, they had about $1,500.
Another student, whose brother died from leukemia, gave Carly a $1,000 donation in the school hallway. Life skills teacher Refina Totten donated free use of her family's timeshare condominium in Hawaii. Other teachers are trying to secure donated airline tickets for Carly and her family so they can travel to the far-flung places in her dreams.
Friends have organized a benefit carnival, with live music and food planned for today, to raise more money for what they are calling “Carly's Great Adventure.”
“I'm really, really surprised,” said Carly, a sophomore. “I think it's awesome all these kids want to help. I just want everyone to know I can't believe how much they've done for me.
“I want to go to Europe — Paris, Holland, Germany,” she said with enthusiasm in her voice. “And Hawaii — I really want to see the volcano. I would do the Hawaii trip first. I want to have cello lessons and art classes and horse-riding lessons. Oh my God, I love horses.”
Diagnosed two years ago
Carly has Ewing's sarcoma, a cancer that occurs in the bone or soft tissue, most often in adolescents. She was diagnosed at 14.
After undergoing 42 weeks of grueling chemotherapy and radiation, she was considered in remission. But the cancer returned last fall, and doctors say it will eventually spread throughout her body.
“Due to the aggressive nature of her current illness, it is unlikely any therapy will provide a cure,” says a Jan. 26 letter from Texas Children's Hospital's oncology team to Carly's family. “Unfortunately, Carly will not survive her cancer.”
Single mother LeeAnn Clement, 47, has exhausted nearly all her financial resources trying to cure her daughter's illness, and had to quit her job in an attorney's office to care for Carly full time.
Because of the grim prognosis and the family's dwindling cash reserves, mother and daughter are moving in with Clement's sister near Salt Lake City, the area where most of their relatives live. Clement has put their Ful*shear home on the market.
“Carly's very positive and upbeat, and she's really good at blocking out pain,” said Clement. “And bless her heart, she goes to school and just enjoys every minute — she loves being with her friends and her teachers.”
But that doesn't mean her daughter doesn't hurt or is immune to heartache.
“Every day is a hard day,” Clement said. “Every single day she comes home and cries because she doesn't want to leave the friendships. That means she's taking a step closer to dying. Every morning when I wake up, the same horrible world comes crashing down on me. To see her say goodbye to her friends is going to be terrible.”
Carly's friends say they will remember her strength and resilience.
“She never really talked about being sick — she didn't want anyone ever feeling bad for her,” said Felicia Chandler, a 15-year-old sophomore who helped with the school's weeklong fund drive. “Whenever she found out she only did have about a year, more or less, to live, she said she doesn't want to cry because that will just make her weaker, and she's just going to live her life as much as she can.”
Looking at Carly offers little hint that she is sick. There is a slight scar on her chest where a port was placed last year to administer her chemotherapy. Her illness and prognosis did not become common knowledge among Foster High's students until recently.
A ‘pretty amazing' girl
“If her mother had never told me, I would never had known she was sick because she never acts like it. She doesn't complain,” said art teacher Kim Henry. “She never asks to go to the nurse; she never asks anything. So, obviously her parents have raised her where she's just very independent and she really wants to be part of the social networking of the school.
“Kids like that are few and far between. For her to be like that when she's got things to overcome, that's pretty amazing.”
Henry, with tears in her eyes, said telling Carly goodbye on Monday will be “one of the hardest things you have to do.”
Carly has a full understanding of her prognosis, her mother said.
“For us to say only the best to her and not be honest with her about what could happen would be irresponsible,” Clement said.
Carly said her illness offers an important lesson.
“I guess the big message is to get out and live — don't bother yourself with the little tiny problems,” she said. “Don't waste time. Don't be so scared. And have confidence in yourself.”
I contacted Ms. O'Hare (the author of the article) for more information about where specifically Carly will be moving. The article mentions Cottonwood Heights, which looks as though it is in Salt Lake City, but it's unclear if that's where she is moving to.
Fingers crossed we can figure something out. What a tragic story...
Cottonwood Heights is about 10 minutes north of my house toward SLC. There is a barn not too far from there, in Holladay, that I know does a summer camp but don't know anything about the quality of the instruction. There is also Camp Koustopolos up in Emigration Canyon, http://www.campk.org/ that has riding lessons and I believe offers financial help.