LEIPSIC — Five-year-old Leipsic resident Evelyn Tussing has not allowed her journey with Cystic Fibrosis prevent her from dreaming of owning a horse.
Tussing is the daughter of Aaron and Kelly Tussing and is the youngest of two other siblings. She starts kindergarten at Leipsic Elementary Friday and was recommended by her former social worker, Kim Reno, at Promedica Children’s Hospital, Toledo, to have her Make A Wish wish of owning a horse come true.
Evelyn has been taking riding lessons at Challenged Champions Equestrian Center in Ottawa since April. The equine center founded in 1997 provides services to those ages 3 to adults. The mission is to enrich and change the lives of children and adults with special needs through facilitated equine activities. She has learned skills she will need once she get a horse of feeding the horse as well as horse riding techniques like trotting and directing the horse using reins.
Evelyn’s family has had countless fundraisers to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation that assists with the advancement and treatment of those who have CF.
Evelyn’s wish has been approved and Make a Wish is working with the family to determine the best time to grant Evelyn’s wish, according to Katie Ferrell, Make A Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana communications manager.
“Right now we are working with local experts to determine the most appropriate horse for Evelyn and are looking to grant her wish sometime next summer,” Ferrell said.
Kirby Wierda, Challenged Champions Equestrian Center instructor and volunteer coordinator, works with Evelyn and others children who have medical challenges and teaches them about horse riding skills.
“Evelyn has a natural ability and sits well on top of the horse and does not get frustrated,” Wierda said. “If she gets the horse she would be over the moon and no matter what emotion she
is feeling she can bond with the horse.”
Evelyn was born March 17, 2014, at Bluffton Blanchard Valley Hospital and at 10 days old her family received a call after testing had been done that she had Cystic Fibrosis. The disease mainly effects the lungs and digestive system where there is an excess of mucus in the body making it hard to fight off illnesses, properly digest food and absorb the nutrients and fats from food.
Today she takes over eight medications daily and now has a Hill-Rom vest that shakes her body to help break up the mucus and allows her to cough it up and spit it out. She visits the Toledo Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Center every eight weeks and sees over five specialists that includes a pulmonary function test, frequent blood work and chest X-rays.
Evelyn’s interest in horses began two years ago when she started watching Netflix and barrel racing on YouTube. Her last two birthdays have been horse themed with a visit to a miniature pony farm.
Riding with other children like her who battle medical conditions, she does not feel alone and the bouncing of the horse helps break up the mucus in her lungs.
“I like the smell of the horse and look forward to reading my horse books when I get one,” Evelyn said during a recent horse riding lesson. She wore cowgirl boots and a pink T-shirt that said “My Therapist Eats Hay.”
Evelyn’s mother said it would mean everything if Evelyn’s wish to get a horse came true through the Make A Wish.
“She loves riding horses and she is not Evelyn with CF, but Evelyn who rides a horse,” Kelly said. The family does not currently own a horse and wanted to make sure she received proper training before owning her own horse.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.