I don't know his name or where he's from or who his family is. I don't know where he belonged or how he got there; all I know is that he was there and I am so glad he was. You see, our mission at Flames to Hope is to transform the lives of adults and children with emotional, social, cognitive and physical challenges through equine therapeutic and learning services. However, on that hot August day that little boy transformed ours and to this day many of us at Flames to Hope still recall the little boy who ran through stickers to walk with horses.
How, did we come to meet this little boy? Several of us set out August 14, 2019 on a mission to bring hope, love and laughter to the victims of the 2019 flooding in Muskogee, Ok. Our long journey was almost cut short abruptly when we arrived at our destination only to discover all the families staying at the emergency relief shelter had been given tickets to the Medieval fair and would not return until that evening. Little cots laying neatly in rows on the floor adorned with a few personal items, some food, water, a few toys and a couple of volunteers were all that remained in the old gymnasium building many of these families now called home.
Determined, to not chalk the day up as a waste of time we loaded our little horses back in the trailer and headed for town. To our good fortune and thanks to a few Facebook friends we happened upon the most beautiful park with tons of kids. So we stopped. We unloaded the horses, strapped on their therapy vests and potty bags and prepared to be swarmed. That's when we met the little boy. We never caught his name. I am not sure if he even gave us one. I don't know if he was alone or with family. He never said. He just grinned from ear to ear with his face all aglow mesmerized by our little horses.
We stood in the shade for a while as every little kid in the park made there way over to see the minis. They came and left sometimes one by one, sometimes in a crowd. Every person had their special moment with the horses and every person eventually left. But the little boy always stayed. Eventually we decided to take a walk around the pond, the boy followed. His big brown eyes still fixated on our tiny horses.
As we came around the far side of the pond, the boy turned back. Why I do not know. We assumed he went to tell his family where he was. So we continued our walk. We quickly reached the other end of the pond and headed for our cars, exhausted and hot. As we looked back to make sure no one had been left behind we saw the little boy running after us all the way around the pond. In his efforts to catch up with his new furry friends, he ran. He ran in his little bare feet across the hot side walk, across the little rocks and he ran through the stickers just to walk with the horses.
I think of this boy often and how much he touched our lives. In that one brief moment as we watched him running through stickers to walk with horses he taught us that life is about perspective. When life leads us down a path that is hard and painful we have two choices we can give up or we can choose to run!