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Horseback Riding Helps Haley Stay Positive

Haley and Spunky -- November 2014

“ A very special gift that I received makes staying positive a whole lot easier. ”


- Haley

For more than 12 years, Spunky, a Morgan mare, has helped Haley stay positive as she fights cystic fibrosis. Here is her story:

At birth, I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. As a result, every day is filled with taking lots of medicines and trying to keep my lungs as healthy as possible. A very special gift that I received makes staying positive a whole lot easier. In October of 2002 at the age of 14, I was granted a wish. When given the opportunity to be granted a wish, I knew exactly what I wanted it to be. I had been horseback riding for about three years and wanted my very own horse!

I remember the first time I saw her. I went to the barn that day for a riding lesson. My instructor pointed to a new horse that I didn’t know and said, “You will be riding Spunky today and if you like her, she’s yours!” I didn’t even have to ride her to know that I wanted her.

Spunky is a beautiful Morgan mare.  I’ve owned her for a little over twelve and a half years now. Spunky loves to be outside in the field whenever the weather is nice. She also loves getting attention when I groom her but most of all, she loves getting spoiled with treats. I still keep in touch with my wish volunteers and reminisce about the barn party that we had when Spunky officially became mine.  I was also given a saddle, bridle and grooming supplies. Over the years, Spunky has become part of my family. She still makes me just as happy as the first day I saw her, and she really shows that wishes do come true!

I am currently 27 years old. In December 2012, I graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Interior Design. The past two years, I have been working as an interior designer at a furniture store. One day I would love to get involved in healthcare design. I feel like after all my years of experience in hospitals that I would know exactly what patients would want when they visit their doctor.

On several different occasions, I have taken part in group discussions with medical students at the University of Pittsburgh. I answered any questions they had about cystic fibrosis in hope that one day they would specialize in it and find a cure.  Also in 2008 and 2010, I was a marketing and communications intern for Make-A-Wish. It was great working with the very people who helped make my wish come true.  In the future, I would love to volunteer for Make-A-Wish and help others enjoy the happiness and positive effects that a wish can bring.

  • Haley receives accessories for Spunky

  • Haley with her volunteers and family when her wish came true.

  • Haley and Spunky

  • May 2010

  • August 2010

  • October 2011

  • Haley and Spunky -- GO STEELERS!

Over the years, Spunky has become part of my family. She still makes me just as happy as the first day I saw her, and she really shows that wishes do come true! ”

— Haley

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