Heroes for Zach

One cold night at Hippotherapy in Huron, Tennessee, 13-year old Zach squealed as he rode his horse, Pepper.  Two men stood nearby watching Zach with watery eyes as his grandfather, John, explained the bleak journey that lay ahead of Zach.  Suffering from several terminal health conditions, Zach needed heart, lung and kidney transplants.  Zach was losing ground and strength, with his family always aware that any surgery – even a transplant – could end his life.  Things were starting to look hopeless.
 
Over the past year, Zach had made it clear to all that his fondest dream was to go to Disney World before he was too weak and frail to experience “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”  With time working against them, three of Zach’s therapists at the Therapy and Learning Center decided to bring some hope and support to Zach and his family.  Barbara Meussner, Amy Tillman and Sara Hudson got approval from Zach’s grandmother to raise money to send Zach to Disney World!
 
A flurry of fundraising began and in less than a month, the employees at the center had raised more than the $2,500 needed to make Zach’s dream come true!  They had t-shirts, gifts and customized luggage created for Zach to use on his trip.  As a special surprise, Zach’s grandmother contacted the owners of “Buddy,” the dog from the Disney move Air Bud, and Zach’s favorite dog.  The owners had a puppy they were going to give Zach for free.  Just like Zach, the puppy had a heart condition, and “Buddy” was going home with Zach when he returned from Disney World!
 
A few days before his trip, a party was planned to celebrate the upcoming Disney trip.  Unfortunately, Zach’s heart became weak and he was admitted to the hospital, too sick for the trip.  The Therapy & Learning Team, along with all of Zach’s supporters, prayed for his recovery.  Miraculously, Zach did get better and was able to go on his trip.  He enjoyed all the planned events at Disney, and came home with his beloved dog Buddy.
 
It is one thing to be sensitive to the needs of others.  Compassion is putting legs and feet to sensitivity and making a difference in the lives of those around us.  Many thanks to the staff at the Therapy & Learning Center, and especially to Barb, Amy and Sara for going above the call of duty to provide an unforgettable experience for Zach.  You made a dream come true for a very sick young man and gave him memories to last a lifetime!

In the Photo

L to R, Standing: Sara Hudson, occupational therapist; Amy Tillman, speech-language pathologist. Sitting: Barbara Meussner, occupational therapist; “Buddy;” Zach Vining. 

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