Jessica Beers – An Extraordinary Story

Jessica Beers is an extraordinary little girl. At first glance her smile and laugh will captivate you. Jessica’s love for life is more than any parent could dream of. Jessica is six years old and attends Hellgate Elementary School in Missoula, MT as a first grader. She may walk the halls a bit slower than the other kids or lack the ability to run and keep up on the playground, but her motivation keeps her head held high. Jessica was born with Muscular Dystrophy. She has been diagnosed with one of the neuromuscular diseases called "Dejerine Sottas". This type of MD will affect her whole body, and her muscles will become weak in all limbs. This makes her balance and gait very unstable. Due to this factor her walking becomes difficult and any physical activity above that is even harder. Jessica has to be very careful as to not to fatigue herself too much, as if this will occur her muscles get tired and weaken. Once they weaken it is extremely hard to gain that muscle strength back. The BEST form of activity that has been found for Jessica is therapeutic horseback riding. In a time span of just six weeks Jessica’s strength in her legs and arms has increased dramatically. Her gait has become closer and her walk more steady. It is not just the physical aspect that has helped Jessica it is also the emotional aspect of riding. Jessica has always been a social girl but still a bit reserved. After riding Jessica has a whole new confidence in herself that is bigger and better. She is learning to put her physical limitations aside and is realizing what a wonderful little girl she is. When on the horse Jessica sees it as fun and playtime not even realizing that she is in therapy. She is making a bond with those around her and even the horses. As they give her that unconditional love and support that so many need and don’t always get. One of the best decisions that could have ever been made for Jessica is allowing her to get involved with therapeutic horseback riding. Her whole outlook has changed, she is learning that even those with limitations can reach for the stars and make their dreams come true.

Jessica has a great deal of love and support coming from those around her. She lives full time with her Mother (Leanne Beers) and little brother, age 5 (Thomas Beers). Leanne works hard to instill good morals and values to both of her children. Leanne also has muscular dystrophy, and has been confined to a wheelchair for the last 4 years. She hopes to show her children, especially Jessica, that life is a wonderful experience and one should enjoy it. Leanne is a single mom and is raising both her kids full time. She gains most of her emotional strength from her parents (Tom and Brenda Beers). She says a large part of who she is comes from the amazing support she had from her family growing up. Today Leanne prides herself with her education in Psychology, Human and Family Development, and Early Intervention. Leanne loves to give to others without asking for anything in return. For the last 7 years Leanne has been part of an organization to train service dogs for those in need. She does this as a hobby and says that payment is enough just to see the individuals faces when they receive their dog. Leanne has taken Jessica and Thomas to train dogs with her since they were about 2 years of age and they absolutely love it. Leanne would say that animals are one of the best means of therapy. She says she will always have dogs in her home and now she hope that Jessica will be a lifelong horseback rider.

Leanne, Jessica and Thomas would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Nevada Joe, Diane, Ernie, and all of those at Shooting Star Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program. Because of you our smiles are bigger and the stars seem brighter. You all help to remind us that life is a joyous thing and dreams will come true when you just reach for your star!!
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