We have had so much fun at the Des Moines Gigi's Playhouse that we couldn't resist a stop at the Twin Cities Playhouse. This playhouse serves families of people with Down's syndrome throughout the Minneapolis and St. Louis area. An open play time was scheduled and Vlad informed us that he simply HAD to go and play with the children and their families. We can't have an upset unicorn on our hands so we headed on over and were treated to a warm welcome by the staff and clents. We even got Kristen, the Director, in on the fun.
We are over the moon that we have been able to add an extra stop to our itinerary. We had so much fun at the Des Moines Gigi's Playhouse that we stopped by the Twin Cities Gigi's Playhouse and asked if we could rock for them at their open house tomorrow. To our delight, the director said yes!
Come on by and see what the playhouse is all about,bring anyone you know who has been touched with the gift of knowing someone with Down's Syndrome, and enjoy a free unicorn ride! We will be rocking in the morning starting at 10 am.
The Minneapolis Ronald McDonald House is HUGE. It is also a bright, cheery and extremely lively home away from home for families from all over the world when their child needs lengthy medical treatment. This particular house has the longest average stay of any of the Ronald McDonald houses worldwide. The nearby children's hospital provides top notch treatment for some critically ill children and having family near by is an important part of the healing process.
Some children were there as patients who no longer had to stay in the hospital, others were siblings of children who still required acute hospital care. Memorial blocks ringing the gardens were bittersweet reminders of children who are no longer with us, and hopefully, of children who recovered and have returned home after recovering. Everyone who wanted a ride got one, and quite a few children rode repeatedly until a strong thunderstorm called an end after three hours of fun. Our ears were treated to giggles and squeals, plus plenty of loud screams of delight. One charming young lady from Saudi Arabia told us that she loves to scream--she was telling the truth, and she does it VERY well! Screams of delight like hers are always music to our ears. We also met children and their families from all over the US and from Argentina, Honduras and numerous other countries. Watching them play together was pure delight, and we were also struck by how they all took care of each other. Braver children offered to ride with the more timid, and all of them provided encouragement to each of the others. We can learn life lessons from these children, because they truly treat each other as family, are patient and kind and look after each other. Their courage and bravery are utterly inspiring.
At 2 am, after three hours of sleep, we arrived in Des Moines at Gigi's Playhouse, a Down's Syndrome Awareness and Education facility that does fabulous work with these special people. Each person develops skills to the best of their abilities, and they have a great time in the process. The playhouse is so inviting that we wanted to play in it! Many of today's play activities were unicorn themed, and we were delighted to see quite a few of our uniquestrians wearing horns they had decorated just for the occasion.
We unloaded Vlad and set him up outside the front door, then were tickled pink by the ear to ear grins on big and little faces as the kids arrived. Some of the kids were bouncing in their seats and the excitement was contagious. Each ride we gave was tailored to the needs of the rider. Some kids barreled up the stairs, while others needed to be lifted up or gentle and patient encouragement as they realized just how tall Vlad is. Some of my (Katlinel, the Rockinghorsegal) favourite memories of the trip will be of the more timid riders and the glow of self confidence they exude after overcoming their fear and making it all the way up onto that TALL unicorn. We never tire of the grins, giggles and squeals from our precious riders.
Anyone who wanted a ride was welcome, and we gave rides to siblings, parents, the staff of the playhouse, and even to one of the Chicago staff who just happened to arrive for a training session after the summer celebration. Every stop we make leaves us wanting to come back and do this again. These kids are even more magical than Vlad!
You can see even more videos from Des Moines on our Rocking for Charity YouTube Channel.
After 600 miles of quality road time, we arrived at the Conestoga Mall in Grand Island and were given a very warm welcome by the mall staff. They literally opened their doors wide and rolled out the carpet for us so we could rock for the Grand Island Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
We arrived a bit early (as usual) so we set up and started giving rides and collecting donations for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. For six hours we gave rides to everyone who wanted one, and were impressed with the big hearts and generosity of the local community. In addition to our unicorn rides, there was also a bounce house, face painting, games and of course, the opportunity to sign up to be a big brother or sister. There was even a newly matched big and little brother pair out on their very first afternoon outing, and they both had a blast, not to mention getting off to a great start together. Several now grown former Littles even showed up for rides. At the end of the evening we gave all the tips we had collected to Amy Brezenski, the firecracker new director of this branch of Big Brothers/Big Sisters in order to further their work. Our children are our future, and this special form of nurturing can literally change lives.
Weary but happy, we then went to the Grand Island Travelodge who generously donated a hotel room for the night so we could be well rested for the next leg of the trip. Thank you to everyone who made this such a memorable tour stop!
Hoofbeats to Healing has been providing therapeutic rides to special needs children and adults for seventeen years. They specialize in hippotherapy for children and adults with autism and other disabilities. Each ride is specialized to the rider's needs and abilities. We also consider the special needs of each of our riders and will ride with them as human seatbelts if they lack the strength or muscle tone to hold themselves on Vlad.
This was Vlad's first time in a paddock. He was right in the middle of the paddock and the horses and their precious riders circled around him as he gave rides. One of the horses, Peaches, wasn't sure what this strange creature was in her paddock and was initially quite anxious.We stopped rocking and let her slowly come up and introduce herself to Vlad, eventually sniffing his muzzle and deciding he was safe. In this case, the therapy was equine as well as human!
We had a grand time giving rides. One of our first riders of the day spent almost all of her ride on her cell phone...calling friends and telling them that she was riding a unicorn! Kids rode, parents rode, horses got to bond with a unicorn, and it was a truly delightful day. Many thanks to Hoofbeats to Healing for hosting us!
On a warm and sunny Sunday the Sippee's clothing store and the Happy Happy Joy Joy toy store were invaded by one enormous unicorn and a rollicking crew of pirates. This motley crew stayed for most of the afternoon, rocking all comers and even pressganging some passers by into the ride of their lives.
Everyone was delighted with the surprise influx of fun. The Pirates of Reno all pitched in to make the afternoon spectacular. This particular band of pirates, gruff and rowdy as they may be, all have hearts of pure gold. They work closely with the We Care Volunteers and provide meals to Reno area homeless shelters four days a week. We donated a portion of the doubloons raised to this worthy charity and had such a great time that we are planning an even bigger even for the return back through Reno next month.
Reposting this to bring it to the top. :) Our Itinerary continues to grow and we will be announcing even more stops in the very near future.
Sacramento CA July 12th Join us at Roosevelt Park for the Zombie Walk (Or rock, in our case)
We had a fantastic time rocking the undead and raised a bunch of money for the
Albie Aware Breast Cancer Foundation.
San Francisco, CA August 7th We are delighted to rock for
the Pomeroy Rehabilitation and
Recreation center of San Francisco!
They provide a wide array of services
for individuals with many different
challenges including cerebral palsy,
Down's syndrome, autism and varying
Reno, NV August 10th Sippee's is hosting us in downtown Reno. They work closely with the
local community and support many civic projects that benefit area children.
Saratoga Springs, UT August 13th Hoofbeats for Healing
Grand Island, NE August 15th We rock for the Big Brothers!
Des Moines, IA August 16th Gigi's Playhouse, a recreation and therapeutic activity center for
those with Down's Syndrome.
Minneapolis, MN August 18th Ronald McDonald House of the Twin Cities
St. Louis Park, MN August 20th Gigi's Playhouse of the twin cities
Aurora, IL August 22nd, Gigi's Playhouse at the Fox Run Mall
Augusta, MI August 23rd Unicorn rides for the Cheff Center which provides therapeutic horse
rides for special needs children and adults
Syracuse, NY August 29th Gigi's Playhouse
Rochester, NY August 30th Gary the Pirate has brought innumerable squeals of glee to the
Rochester area, having collected toys for needy children for 25 years. Bring a
new toy for him and enjoy a very special unicorn ride as our thank you for
helping him with his mission.
Hershey, PA September 6th Yippee! Today we rock for the benefit of the Ronald McDonald
house in the chocolate scented town of Hershey.
Barre, VT September 7th Come for a unicorn ride after Sunday services at the Barre
Unitarian Universalist church!
August 10th we will be making our fourth stop on the tour in beautiful downtown Reno. The Junkee Clothing Exchange does enormous amounts for local charity groups. Come on by and go for a ride on Vlad!
My mission is to keep everyone updated on this trip as it goes from planning stages to completion. This dreamchild is real!
Our Rocking Sponsors
The Flying Skwirls
Gypsy The Clay Goddess
The Celtic Dragon
Grand Island Nebraska Travelodge
Thank you to our Fabulous Donors! These are the cherished members of Clan Rockinghorse:
Brenda the Braider
Craig and Nilay Corbell