Amanda Bane has been a rider in the Happy Trails riding program since 2007. She inspires all those that work with her at Happy Trails her through her hard work and sweet spirit in spite of her physical limitations.
Her disability began to surface in fifth grade when she started struggling to keep up with the other kids. Her development continued to fall behind over the next few years. Through all of her struggles, Amanda never complained and just tried to keep up with the other children.
In 2007, during Amanda’s sophomore year of high school, she had a psychotic break and was admitted into UCLA for treatment. A visit that was supposed to last one week turned into 10. By the end of her treatment, she was told she had schizophrenia. Again, through this long stay at UCLA, Amanda never complained and did what was asked of her.
Even with this diagnosis, Amanda’s physical condition continued to deteriorate, especially her motor skills. In 2010, Amanda graduated from high school. Her doctors at UCLA began to suspect that she did not have schizophrenia since she was not exhibiting the common symptoms. Her psychiatrist assisted the family in getting in touch with an Adolescent Neurologist at UCLA. After a battery of tests, an elevated protein was found in her spinal fluid and they were sent to UCSF for further testing.
In October 2011, Amanda was finally diagnosed with Niemann Pick Type C – a lysosomal storage disease which damages the body’s cells and tissues, starting in the brain. This rare, life threatening, neurological condition has no cure. Since Amanda’s diagnosis, her physical condition has deteriorated further.
Amanda was first introduced to Happy Trails by long-time volunteers Marie and Paul Ritter. It has been the only program in Tulare County to accept Amanda and allow her to continue participating as her health worsens.
Amanda enjoys riding and has developed a special relationship with many of our horses throughout the years. Not only is horse riding an opportunity for Amanda to be free from her physical limitations, but it is also a time of joy. Beth Spuhler, Director of Operations and Amanda’s instructor the past several sessions said, “Amanda encourages me to be persistent at what I do no matter what. The gleam in her eye and her love for her horse touches my heart.”
Amanda’s mother Amy, is grateful for all the people who make Happy Trails such a wonderful program where her daughter can feel normal, “It’s hard to find a place like Happy Trails that makes a special needs child feel so important and loved. When Amanda is at Happy Trails nothing else matters and everyone treats Amanda with such loving care.”