"We're giving the kids something to dream for and who doesn't have something to dream for in life? We all do," says Taylor Young.
Young, an 18-year old Trinity High School graduate is making those dreams come true. It's her mission to give children with special needs just one day to feel normal. This makes her a FOX43 "Your Hero."
Young, of Carlisle, Cumberland County, has two loves in life, children and horses. At the Special Friends Rodeo, held May 27th at Homestead Farms in Hummelstown, Dauphin County, she brought both together.
"The first year we had about 35-kids and now we have 75-kids so it doubled in our numbers," Young says.
Young organizes the rodeo, now in its fourth year. She & dozens of volunteers help children diagnosed with conditions like Autism and Down Syndrome have a fun time at the rodeo.
"The nice part about this is that we don't feel like we stand out, all of these kids here have special issues and that's okay," says Emily Ferguson, mother of a son with Autism.
Her son Sammy really enjoyed taking a ride on a horse at the rodeo. She's impressed that a teenager planned the entire event.
Ferguson says, "That's incredible for someone to be thoughtful & to reach out to others in the community and to think about not only the Autistic children who are affected but also the families and the siblings."
Taylor's brother Brandon also has Autism.
"She knows how it is to live with a kid with Autism you know & she's just great with the kids, it's really cool," says Taylor's friend, Ashley Derr.
"We have always felt that we've been blessed & we should pay it forward and give to the community. We've always tried to instill that in our children & the fact that Taylor has done this and just taken it tenfold, we couldn't be more proud," says Taylor's mother, Ann Shields Young.
Taylor says, "They say a child laughs an average 200 times a day, well if I can make them laugh 201 then I've accomplished something really awesome."
Taylor has been an All-Star member of the Pennsylvania High School Rodeo Association, specializing in Barrel Racing and Break-Away Roping events. In the fall she will attend Murray State University in Kentucky on a Rodeo Scholarship.
The Special Friends Rodeo will continue for years to come; another local family will take over the planning. Taylor hopes to volunteer at next year's event.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun