By Teresa Todd, Santa Clarita Contributor Thanks to the generosity of more than 600 donors, Carousel Ranch achieved its fundraising goal of $100,000 during its 2018 annual giving campaign “Carousel Wishes & Valentine Kisses.” That includes a matching gift of $25,000 from a very generous donation made by Wayne and Dianne Crawford. Carousel Ranch is a place where children with special needs discover and experience some of their greatest achievements through equestrian therapy and vocational training programs. These funds will provide scholarships for students in need, and support the operations and growth of the equestrian therapy program and Ready to Work (RTW!), an innovative employment readiness and training program for young adults with special needs. “Funds raised through the campaign are a big part of the growth we have seen and will continue to see this year, which enables us to serve more students through both the equestrian and vocational programs,” said Denise Redmond, executive director of Carousel Ranch. The Ranch served 50 percent more students than ever before for a total of 130 served in 2017. “The success of the annual campaign gives us the direct operating funds that facilitates this type of growth in the Ranch’s service delivery.” For every child served by the program, there is an equal number of powerful stories to tell. Meet Lilly Taylor, who has been riding at the ranch since she was 3-months-old. She was diagnosed with Walker Warburg Syndrome, a form of muscular dystrophy, which has a very short lifespan. “Our family was told that her body would basically start failing her from the first day she was born,” said Lilly’s mother, Jen Taylor. “She has vision and hearing impairments, as well as muscle weakness. I remember the day she started riding to be the first day she vocalized. Lilly gets love and encouragement at Carousel Ranch and her father and I receive endless support and resources from the staff, volunteers, and sponsors.” “Lilly wasn’t given the best odds, but I’ve seen her odds improve immensely every week because of this amazing place,” said Taylor referring to Carousel Ranch. Unfortunately, there are more children needing services that cannot be accommodated. Each student lesson is subsidized so there is always a deficit. The families whose children ride at the Ranch face overwhelming challenges that most people cannot begin to comprehend. The equestrian therapy program is individualized for each student to boost the developmental and emotional benefits. Each year many children with special needs wait for the opportunity to improve their health and experience life at Carousel Ranch. The Ranch is growing to serve more children. It can take years to train a horse, staff, and volunteers. Money raised goes a long way toward meeting the goals of continued growth for the Ranch and its programs. For more information, or to donate to Carousel Ranch, please visit: www.CarouselRanch.org or call 661-268-8010.