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On Wings of Hope

Providing hope and healing through gentle horses

and the love of God
Summer 2018 Wings of Hope Equitherapy P.O. Box 445 Burleson, TX 76097


The word “normal” is not one to appropriately describe Grady
Gross son of Tom and Allison Gross. “Amazing” or
“miraculous” more aptly fit this busy four year old. His early
entry into the world as a 2 lb. 11 oz., 26 week preemie began
an incredible journey for Tom, Allison and Grady as their
family was formed.
Many of you may not be aware that Allison Gross is the
Development Director for Wings of Hope. She began her
service to Wings of Hope as a teenage volunteer, and served as
Volunteer Coordinator prior to her position as Development
Director in charge of bringing in the funds needed to keep
Wings of Hope serving our riders.
At the beginning of her pregnancy, Allison’s excitement soon
turned to a time of uncertainty and hyper awareness that the
little one in her womb could be in danger, when at 13 weeks
she was confined to bed rest and restricted activities, and then
genetic testing showed a high probability of spina bifida. At
20 weeks, however, Tom and Allison’s prayers were answered The first Gross family photo
as an in-depth sonogram revealed the baby had no apparent
health issues and that a little boy was going to make their
family complete. Allison spent the first five or so days in the hospital
flat on her back, even for eating. Although Allison
The day before Valentine’s Day 2014 initiated a time of great was confined, it was a time of much activity in her
anxiety and testing of their faith for Tom and Allison when, at room as doctors, nurses and specialists came and
week 22 of the pregnancy, Allison’s water broke. They had no went. A neonatologist came to discuss options and
idea when they entered the hospital that evening that it would odds, and Tom and Allison were forced to make
literally become their home for many months to come. decisions and verbalize what measures they would
want, or not, if their son were to be born before 24
weeks, which is what medicine says is the point of
viability. So in the face of all these possibilities,
options and decisions Tom and Allison gave Grady his
name. “We knew that in order to speak life into our
son, he needed a name. I also knew that if God had
other plans, I could not name a deceased baby. We
needed to speak to our child and call him by his
name,” Allison shared.
In the midst of all the activity of those days, one day
stands out in Allison’s memory as a nurse came in to
monitor contractions and Grady’s heartbeat. The
nurse was having a difficult time finding the heart-
beat, and Allison remembers thinking she just wanted
it all to be over. She wanted all the anxiety and fear to
go away! In that moment, she cast the devil out,
determined she would not allow him to control her
anxiety or fear, and began to speak life into her child
and family. Allison learned what it was truly like to
Grady recently began riding “Chicken Nugget” as he be a mother and to fight for her child and to fight for
affectionately calls Nugget, Wings of Hope’s halflinger pony the glory of God!
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Tom and Allison relied heavily on the Bible verse in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the
Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Allison shared, “I also remember
laying in the hospital late one evening and praying, reflecting, thinking and refueling that verse in my soul, and I had a
Divine reminder that we had a crib and a car seat at home. We were to have a baby in our home.”
Sooner than they had hoped, Grady decided it was time to make his appearance. The NICU team was there ready to
assist in Grady’s survival. The entire NICU stay was a journey for Tom, Allison and Grady, and it was definitely a
marathon, and not a sprint, with so many ups and down’s. During the NICU time Tom and Allison relied heavily on
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” As parents, and in their marriage, they learned
to walk by faith, and not by sight. “The life we were living was truly out of our control and no matter what the Lord sent
us, it was His will and we were to give Him glory,” Allison shared. One great blessing was that Grady did not have any GI
issues or surgeries. So many micro preemie fatalities are GI related, and Grady never had one intestinal issue. He just
needed time to grow and gain weight, time to learn how to breathe, and time to be the miracle that is Grady.
It was evident around one year that Grady was not going to have any lifelong effects from being a micro preemie. He was
reaching all of his milestones and was not displaying any physical or cognitive issues, which was truly unexplainable,
other than it was a blessing from the Lord. Grady had no vision impairments, his lungs had fully developed, and he had
no illnesses during his first year of life, which was crucial for lifelong health.
Although Grady learned to be a great communicator as a baby and into toddlerhood, it was without clarity. He was not
yet able to express language and enunciation. He began speech therapy around age two, but it was not until he began
riding at Wings of Hope at age three that words began to have value and meaning for him. After falling in love with
Promise, and then Corky, he learned the use and importance of his words. Before turning four, he had advanced to
riding “Chicken Nugget” and learning to use reins.
Grady continues to work with a speech therapist and with his horse partner, Nugget, on pronunciation. he has now
mastered out of his initial IEP plan through school, and his vocabulary is ahead of children his age. Allison sums things
up this way, “Grady’s words and his sweet, kind soul will take him to great places. He is our biggest treasure, and our
greatest blessing, and we will spend the rest of our lives giving God the glory for the miracle of Grady!”


By Allision Gross, Development Director for Wings of Hope

Being a part of Wings of Hope for 14 years I knew that

horses had a lot to teach Grady. I also knew very early in
my pregnancy that Grady might not have a typical life
and that Wings of Hope was already a support system in
place for our family.

What I did not know was that the bond I personally already had with
Promise, Corky and Nugget would be taken to a level I never dreamed of.
How could I love a horse—a co-worker, an angel on hooves—more than I
already did? I learned to love Grady's horses for just that, our son's
horses and saw "my" horses in a totally different light.

So often at Wings, we talk about, and strive to teach those we serve, skills
and tools in our arena that can be taken outside of the arena in daily life.
Until I experienced Wings of Hope as a mother, I never actually
experienced that gift which our horses give. In a matter of just a few
hours on a horse, barriers were broken down and doors were opened for
Grady, and Tom and I as parents, that the Speech Therapist had worked
countless hours and months to achieve. The instant progress of speech
and the tools we received as parents to help our strong willed child are Grady practices putting rings on
unexplainable. poles as he rides Corky


Scripture Musings

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom
come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven...”
Matthew 6:9

What a powerful, loving, hope-filled gift The Lord’s Prayer is to us earthlings. Whatever we are in the
middle of here on earth, we have the heavenly Father’s command to bring the kingdom of heaven to it.
Where there is chaos, peace; where there is woundedness, healing; where there is despair, hope; where
there is bitterness and hardness, tender mercies; where there is lostness, salvation and deliverance;
where there is darkness, light. The possibilities are endless because we have an eternal Father who is
waiting just a prayer, our next breath, away.

A Word from Board of Directors President

Mark Sutherland

Dear Friends and Supporters,

2018 is flying by as we approach mid-year. The barn continues to provide hope, healing and love for the
“Gifts from God” we are so blessed and honored to serve.

Last quarter, I talked about “good dirt” being the foundation that brings together our riders, horses, staff and volunteers. Our
precious dirt continues to serve us well and enhances the overall riding experience. This quarter, I want to discuss “trucks”. When
it comes to horses, barns, farms and trucks, you really can’t mention one without the other. Our 2001 GMC has served us well,
working hard for 17 years while navigating the Texas backroads to the tune of 180,000 miles. Wings of Hope needed a new truck,
therefore, the Board of Directors recently approved funding to get one.

In April, we purchased a shiny, new 2018 Ford F250 Crew Cab 4X4 to serve as our primary truck for use off the property. We have
big plans for this new truck. Stay tuned as we transform this plain, white truck into a moving, visual spectacle representing Wings
of Hope. Don’t worry, the Silverado will continue to serve as a farm truck that stays close to home. I would like to extend our
heartfelt appreciation to Gilchrist Automotive for the generous deal extended to us on this purchase and to our donors that
made this blessing possible.

The recent improvements to the barn are paying huge dividends beyond our wildest dreams. The new wind screens around the
arena improved the rider experience, while increasing the number of classes provided by Wings of Hope. Classes cancellations
due to wind and rain have been reduced dramatically due to the screens. The addition of a monstrous fan improved air circulation
inside the arena, providing welcome relief from the Texas heat. New LED lighting makes the arena a much brighter place while
reducing our recurring electrical costs.

The next fiscal year for Wings of Hope begins August 1st. Therefore, approval of the FY2019 annual budget was an important busi-
ness item addressed by the Board of Directors during the May meeting. The budget for FY2018 was $478,900. I am proud to re-
port the budget for FY2019 was reduced to $447,250. Well deserved credit goes to Julie Rivard and the staff for a job well done
controlling operating expenses. I believe this provides compelling evidence that Wings of Hope continues to act as responsible
stewards of monies provided by our donors and foundations.

Lastly, Round Up for Riders is just around the corner and will be upon us before you know it. For the first time ever, Round Up
for Riders has a “Presenting Sponsor”. Gilchrist Automotive has signed on as the “Presenting Sponsor” for 2018. We are so
blessed to have this support. Don’t forget to make your Round Up for Riders reservations as soon as possible. You will experience
many exciting changes and improvements this year. I look forward to seeing you there.

In His service,


Why a Discovery Trail?

Wings of Hope recognizes the positive impact a horse can have in the lives of humans, whether a
person rides a horse or interacts with the horse from the ground. Each person’s journey with their
horse at Wings of Hope is directed at acquiring tools and achieving goals to help manage unique

The Discovery Trail was so named to reflect the experiences that this area can provide to our
equestrians. It is a shaded, wooded area to help create a positive environment for each equestrian to
explore. All ages and levels of ability will find this very diverse area to be filled with silence, nature,
music, activities, and peaceful trails with challenging obstacles. Each equestrian has many needs, and
gaining tools to help manage their lives is multi-layered and a process.

Our goal is to have all activities blend into the environment. Every effort is being made to utilize
nature to support these activities, to keep the integrity of our beautiful trail as natural as possible
while still providing opportunities to promote hand/eye coordination, balanced/centered seat,
reaching and balance exercises, cognitive skill building, self-esteem/self-confidence building, sociali-
zation, and team building to name a few. All of which can take place by equestrians astride or horse in
-hand out on the trail.

The Discovery Trail is also designed to support serenity. Many of our equestrians require additional
time to process their goals and the discovery trail lends itself to be the ideal surroundings for a person
to breathe, rest, relax and begin to focus on learning tools to help attain their goals.

Wings of Hope appreciates all the support being shown in transforming the front area into the
Discovery Trail. Our goal is to have this area open for exploration and enjoyment by fall 2018.

Wings of Hope
P.O. Box 445
Burleson, TX 76097-0445

Fax: 817-783-7072




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Grady rides JJ in one of his lessons