Familia Perez-LugoRocky Point is home to many interesting people and some beautiful families. I have the pleasure to know one of these families: The Perez family, headed by a lovely couple of Attorneys: Aaron Armando Perez Nuñez and Claudia Lugo Gamez de Perez, both of them practice law in Rocky Point and both share their love for children and horses. They share huge generous hearts and that has led them to provide Equine Therapies to children in need. Claudia and Aaron have 5 beautiful children: Aaron Armando (20), Ariadna Adanary (18), Twins Arlynee Alondra and Abraham Antonio (14) and the little one Arleth Aydenisse (6). The older sons and daughters are a great help for their loving parents with the equine therapies.

Equine therapy introduces the horse as a natural healing element, the relationship formed between the patients, the horse and the therapist helps rehabilitate physical, social and psychological problems. Following instructions such as raising arms high, to the sides, in front, turn your head etc. may be simple for some but it gets harder on top of a horse and even harder if you have Down Syndrome or Autism, etc. This is one of the reasons why therapeutic horseback riding helps reduce symptoms of some disabilities by helping with motor skills and coordination. Also, overcoming the fear of a large animal such as a horse and learning to control it and have it follow their nonverbal cues gives them confidence in their ability to achieve certain things.

For more than 10 years Claudia and Aaron have been helping friends and acquaintances with their special needs children by giving equine therapy sessions. Over time they have made a great commitment to the community and become an organization dedicated to providing Equine Therapies to children with special needs. Just this January of 2014 they finalized the details and made this a formal charity by forming “Asociacion Civil Corceles del Desierto de Sonora” dedicated for children of low income families. So far they have a few volunteers and many expenses such as horse food, horse shoes, employees to take care of the horses and equipment such as saddles, halters, horse fencing and in the future as funding arrives they are hoping for horse shades to protect their equine friends from the harsh desert sun. Since it is a new organization they still lack the proper infrastructure but they have already built the horse arena, a ramp for wheelchairs so children can mount the horses from that ramp and basic horse corrals, as donations come in they will improve the infrastructure.

Equine Therapy is very helpful in rehabilitating children with physical, cognitive, emotional and academic special needs such as: Cerebral Palsy, Ataxia, Autism, Down syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy and many more physical and psychological debilitating diseases. When applied by a well-educated equine therapist, assisted horseback riding can help the patient with motor or psychic disabilities. It helps not only with motor coordination but also with psychological development, with an ultimate goal of providing a better quality life for the patient.

Claudia was generous enough to share with me one example of the benefits that they have accomplished with the equine program in one little 8 year old girl named is Karime Sandoval Valle. She has a very rare disease called Cri-du-chat Syndrome, this is a very rare syndrome affecting only one in 50,000 newborns, one of the symptoms can be aggression towards themselves and the people closest to them, therefore most of them need to be medicated. Karime has been in therapy for 6 months and her Mom reports great progress, as she is more relaxed and has been able to stop the medication. She is also starting to obey simple instructions such as, “Get your shoes and put them on.” Her walk has improved and she is understanding better and paying attention when someone is talking to her. These are some of the improvements reported by her mom, Glinelda, who is very happy and shows up every Thursday for Karime’s therapy session.

In total the cost of the therapy per child is $160US per month. Right now there are 12 children receiving the therapy, the families of these children have significant burdens on providing care for the children. “Asociacion Civil Corceles del Desierto” strives to provide with free therapeutic horseback riding so the cost is not another burden on the families of these children. The current recipients have been sponsored by local businesses. Some sponsor only half of the therapy cost. However, there are 8 children on the waiting list hoping to get sponsorships, the donations are tax deductible and a receipt can be issued by the Association.

With their busy attorney schedule and as two working parents they are very dedicated and making a huge effort donating their time and their children’s time to this worthwhile cause. They work as attorneys during the day and dedicate the afternoons to this cause, sometimes returning home very late. Aaron, Claudia and the girls went to Queretaro to obtain their certification as Equine Therapists, and took further education in the city of Guadalajara. They give classes for volunteers who want to help, right now they have two volunteers from “Cima,” a private school in town. The school is giving them extracurricular points for their community service and that is good motivation for the young students.

Most of the children who receive equine therapy need 2 side walkers and a leading person so they can safely stay in the horse. Some of them need 4 people, one on the horse with them, another one leading the horse plus the two side walkers to keep the child safe and balanced. There is a lot of effort involved. Some gain enough balance to be able to do it on their own but it is a huge effort and requires a lot of time and people to be able to accomplish a day of therapies. After all the children are gone, the horses have many needs. Saddles need to be put away, horses need to be bathed, cleaned up, put away and fed, there are hoofs to take care of, veterinary bills etc.

Let’s join them the 13th of November on a fund fundraiser. If you want to witness the actual therapy session, it starts at 5:00 PM and it’s open to the public. Session followed by fun raffles starting at 6:00 PM, including a weekend for a family of 4 to 5 in a known resort in town, and many more prizes and gift cards donated by local businesses. The price of the raffle ticket is $100 pesos or about $8 dollars. You don’t have to be present to win but, if you want to understand the program better, we encourage you to go. Several of the mothers will prepare Mexican food free of cost for those who buy raffle tickets. The event is located in the Rancho San Jose, property of José Pérez Barnett located on the way to Sonoyta exit on the sign “Ejido Agua Zarca” and follow that dirt road about 3 miles east until you find the ranch.

Please join us for this event and if you can’t attend the date buy a raffle ticket to support the cause or better yet sponsor a child!

For Information on Raffle tickets and sponsorship contact Claudia Directly: liclugogamez@hotmail.com