The Monday and Tuesday after Mother's Day are my two favorite days of the year. Those are the two days of the year that are known as Corey's Day. Corey's Day on the Farm for Special Needs Kids started over 40 years ago. Nick and Coleta Corey invited their special needs son's classroom to their farm for a day. The Corey's saw the impact the day at the farm had on the kids. As the years went on they invited more special needs classrooms. Now the event is so big that it takes place over two days at our local fairgrounds. Over 900 special needs kids are bussed in from local schools. For those two days they get to be a cowboy or cowgirl. They do everything from learning to rope, going on hayrides, a petting zoo,tractor rides and the biggest highlight of all, riding the horses.
The horses (and all other animals) are all provided by volunteers. Grace stayed home this year, but she has been there before. The first year I took her I had no idea what to expect. She exceeded all of my expectations. I love volunteering at Corey's Day, I'm pretty sure I get more out of it than the kids do. One of my favorite kids over the years was a young man named Kenneth. He was one of the high school kids. He was 18 and he had never been on a horse in his life. As I led Grace up to the chute, where the kids get loaded onto the horses from a platform, I could hear Kenneth say "I'm scared, I'm too scared". The gentlemen helping him kept assuring him that he would be just fine, that Grace would take care of him. It took Kenneth several minutes before he was willing to be lowered onto Grace's back, all the while he kept telling everyone how he couldn't do it because he was just too scared. Grace stood stock still while Kenneth was lowered on to her saddle. As we started walking forward with a side walker on each side of Kenneth, he was now yelling "I'm too scared!" He was looking down at Grace's mane. One of the side walkers told Kenneth to look up. He became quiet as he looked around. I looked back at him and said "Your on a horse, look at all you can see from up there." A big grin spread across Kenneth's face and for the rest of the ride he yelled "I'M RIDING A HORSE, I'M RIDING A HORSE."
I had a little girl the following year that chattered the entire time. She looked to be about 8 years old, but had the vocabulary of a 3 year old. I had a hard time understanding the rush of words, so I just kept nodding my head to her story. He mom must have saw it, because when I got back to her she asked "Did she talk your ears off?" I said yes, and her mom said "She is mostly non-verbal, the only time she ever talks is when she is on horse." My eyes welled up with tears, and mom said "Oh, don't worry, her aunt has horses she gets to ride all the time. I'm pretty sure that little girl rode all day long at Corey's Day.
Do you see those two kids standing on the hill across from the tractor ride? They are one of the best parts of Corey's Day. They hide out on the corner of one of the barns, when the tractor ride comes by, they jump out pretending to be bandits.
Every year the cast changes slightly as the older kids volunteer in other areas of the Fairgrounds, and younger kids finally get to take their turn at playing bandit for the day. I love watching these kids, they never tire of the game. They seem of feed off the squeals of delight of the surprised riders on the wagons.
Corey's Day on the Farm are my two favorite days of the year because for those two days I see kids accomplish things that they may have never had the opportunity to do. For those two days I am reminded of the magical touch horses have on both children and adults. For those two days I am blown away by the graciousness of an army of volunteers. After those two days, I swear to myself I will never take the beautiful mare who lives in my back yard for granted. She provides to me everyday the magic that those kids wait all year to enjoy over those two days.