I discovered Mimi's love for horses the first year she attended summer camp. It was the mid-90's and camps for someone like Mimi were slim-to-pretty-much-none. Camp C.A.M.P. (it stands for "Children's Association for Maximum Potential") is northwest of San Antonio, in Center Point, Texas. It was also about a five-hour car ride one-way. The driving part was grueling.
That first year waiting to check in, I never saw so many wheelchairs in one place. Back then the camp was rustic, but with a huge heart! Mimi was eight-years-old and her vocabulary was probably 50 words.
At the end of the five-day camp, there was an awards ceremony for the returning parents and their campers. Canoeing, arts and crafts, and horseback riding were some of the activities represented. Much to my surprise, our little Mimi, won the Horsemanship medal. I was stunned! With a huge grin, Mimi accepted the medal when it was handed to her and hugged it to her chest. Apparently, Mimi also learned a new word, "ride," while at camp. She must have said it a lot during her five days at camp to earn that medal.
Eventually, I found Camp for All. Another great camp, it was so much closer to home, in Burton, Texas. Built from the ground up for those with special needs, they also had horseback riding.
Mimi never did learn to enunciate the word "horse." It didn't matter. Mimi would attend summer camp, and ride horses like the rock star she was, for the next 22 years.
I write extensively about her summer camp adventures in my upcoming book "A Joyful Embrace: A Memoir."