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Healing Strides Group Gets New Home

Franklin Co., VA - Hippotherapy is doing wonders for people facing disabilities. For 20 years, a group in Franklin County has been using horses to build muscles in humans.

Healing Strides of Virginia is upgrading to a new building, and most of the labor is being done with the help of some big hearts.

For years, the group has had to rely on portable toilets and basic cover structures to make its mission work, but soon an 1,800 sq. ft. headquarters will be their new home.

Keylie, 4, suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Angelman's Syndrome that has made her young life quite challenging.

"They have very low muscle tone. She cannot speak. Developmentally she's between 6 and 12 months when actually she just turned four," said Karen Sutphin, Keylie's mother.

So when Keylie's mother heard about Healing Strides, which is supported by Carilion Clinic, she had to see if the unique therapy could help.

"It's her motivation. You can get her to do things on that pony that you would never get her to do just normally in a setting at the clinic," said Sutphin.

"The horse gives a good rotational movement that kind of mimics walking, so it strengthens her trunk in the same way," said Lauren Maxwell with Carilion Clinic.

Carol Young has been the director at the clinic for three years and has been working hard to advance the program.

"You see miracles happen. You see kids who aren't supposed to walk. You see never said a Word, say their first word or make their first sign. It blows my mind how it happens... it really does," said Young.

This year came another miracle when a major donor came through, as did a grant through Lowe's, which is allowing Healing Strides to finally get a permanent place to call home.

Throughout the week, employees from the Rocky Mount Lowe's are expected to put in hundreds of hours working on the project. That will allow Healing Strides to make big strides in helping even more children.

"It's just been a huge amount of people coming out to help us and it's just heartwarming," said Young.

Healing Strides expects to have a grand opening for their new building September 29 when they host their annual fundraising event right there on site outside of Boones Mill.

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