Message from our Founder, Catherine (Cat) Markosky
I have two children who have severe disabilities, Mason (age 12) has an extremely rare (1 in 30 million) genetic condition called Costello Syndrome with added medical complications due to traumatic birth injury resulting in Cerebral Palsy, and Maxwell (age 9) is Autistic. As a parent, I continually strive to help my boys in every way possible, researching new treatments and techniques, hoping for recovery and working every day to help them find their own personal success, to improve their quality of life, and mostly... to find happiness with themselves. It is what all parents want for their children.
In 2006, I was introduced to Hippotherapy by my son's Physical Therapist, Beth Parks. Although I was extremely reluctant to place my tiny, fragile 2 year old son on the back of a horse... she explained the potential benefits and I could not resist trying it. At age 2 1/2 Mason began a weekly riding regimen and by the end of his 11th week he was able to sit up independently! It was nothing short of miraculous. By age 5 he was bearing weight in a walker and by 7 he was able to finally take independent steps! I attribute his physical success 100% to the equine therapy.
As a parent who fought along side my fragile son, born too soon and very ill, to now seeing him ride a 15-hand horse... when you become pregnant, naturally you think about watching them run, ride a bicycle, or simply eating an ice cream cone. We were told by "experts" that Mason would not see age 2, let alone walk or ride a horse! Well, he may not be able to compete in the typical sports like little league - but the horse has provided him with increased strength, flexibility and balance. Yes, he is able to ride a bike now, too!
Riding proved to be the best treatment for gaining strength, balance, and flexibility
And one thing you notice with all the children who ride - they are always so proud of themselves...
In realizing the remarkable benefits of this unique and not to mention highly motivational therapy (what child does not want to ride a horse, right?!), I felt I had to help more children like Mason realize the healing benefits of equine-assisted therapy. By the end of 2007, Southern Tier Alternative Therapies, Inc., was formed and (Mason and) I took to advocating, searching for funding, and hoping to help more children afford to ride horses!
Raising my special children has changed my life - and working with STAT allows me to witness miracles every day. I am blessed to now know hundreds of families just like mine, who, because of STAT, are able to share their experiences with me!
Over the past few years I have personally witnessed children take their first steps or speak their first words -- all because they are able to participate in consistent equine therapy. I am truly blessed.
In 2012, STAT provided scholarships to 223 children like Mason.
Thank you to all who support STAT, in kind words, your volunteer works, or financially,
Cat Markosky, Founder and CEO, STAT, Inc.