Every Christmas is special in its own unique way.  This Christmas will be one of the most memorable in our family's history.  Thanks to the giving heart of strangers, my daughter won a horse for Christmas.

It all started earlier in December when the word spread of Jared Lynch of Lynch Arena giving away a horse to a child for Christmas.  Jared was asking for letters from each child who wanted to win the horse, explaining why they wanted the horse, how it would be cared for, and how the horse would benefit the community or their family.

The application instantly became a project for our 12 year old Jenna.  She wrote a draft of the letter, asked for our opinion, revised some lines and re-wrote the entire letter as a finished draft.  Although that letter alone would have met the requirements to enter, she went further, treating the submission like a job application.  She asked for reference letters from riding instructor Kris Ouattara, and from Danny and Dorine Bennett, who offered their horse for a riding workshop in Madison.  Photos were carefully selected of Jenna with horses through the years.  A letter from Mom and Dad with contact information and assurances that the horse would be cared for were also included in a glossy purple folder.  As we drove away from the post office, I looked at Jenna and said, "No regrets.  You did everything you could have possibly done to win that horse."  From that day on, thoughts of the horse, the letter and an impending draw would pop in our minds throughout each day.

Jenna asked if we could drive by where the horse was and I agreed.  We slowly went past Lynch arena and saw pastures of beautiful horses, an outdoor arena and a silo with a banner that confirmed we were driving past the right place.  I told Jenna that I hoped she would win, but to prepare her heart if she didn't. She needed to prepare too if the person who did win would be someone she knew and to be happy for that person as well.

A call came one afternoon from Jared Lynch, who explained that Jenna was one of the finalists and asked questions to ensure the horse would be cared for if she won.  My eyes filled with tears as I hung up the phone.  As a parent we want to give our kids anything they have a passion for, but buying a horse was not in our budget, although we could financially care for a horse on an ongoing basis.  Nothing could have made me happier than Jenna's dream coming true.

The day Jenna's name was drawn, I got the call.  The timing was perfect because Jared wanted it to be a surprise and Jenna was away at a youth group event.  A pre-arranged TV crew arrived at our home to interview Jenna for what she thought was as one of the finalists of the giveaway.  As the cameras rolled, my cell phone rang, I handed the phone to Jenna and she was told she won the horse and her name is Daisy!   She immediately burst into tears and it was one of the most beautiful moments to experience in our lifetime.

Part of Jenna's letter included giving back to the community if she had Daisy as her own.  Jenna wants other children to have the opportunity to fall in love with horses, just like she did: one ride at a time.

Note: The Warden Family is not affiliated with KELO TV.

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