LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Once upon a time a little girl named Dena discovered her two passions in life - reading and riding. She grew up to build a successful bakery in Atlanta, but in 2000 she decided to sell her business and start a small horse farm in Lee County with a literary theme.
The result became the first chapter in a new beginning for Dena Little. Today, Storybook Farm is a place where lives are changed. Dena agrees it is a magical place. “I realized that animals, horses in particular, could really minister to kids that were facing a lot of adversity, and whether that was physical things or emotional, or children that maybe just didn’t fit in quite well in their social circles, or they were just struggling in some sort of way, and I realize, looking back, that they did that a lot for me.”
“I have seen countless times that an animal has just met a child at their point of need and it’s a beautiful, God-given thing. For Storybook, there is no qualification. It is any parent, any teacher, any counselor, social worker, therapist, medical professional that feels like that this would be of benefit.”
Dena sees the importance of Storybook Farm every day. “Unfortunately, a lot of our kids are on a trajectory downward. They’re not going to get better. They are facing terminal illnesses or disabilities, and situations that are on the decline. They’re not used to maybe physically get around or be able to accomplish things that their peers can, and they’re up on top of that big horse, then suddenly they’re unstoppable.”
All the animals at Storybook have their own story, but one deserves a special chapter. “This is Tom Sawyer. Little and mighty he is. Yes. There was a little girl who had Brittle Bone Disease, She had an Ace Bandage on her arm, and I said, ‘Oh, gosh, what happened?’ She said, ‘Oh, my arm is broken in three places,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ Tom Sawyer might as well have been 14-feet tall at that point, but you know it was so important for her to do this, and she ended up riding with us for six or seven years.”
Although all the stories don’t have a happy ending, Dena knows what they’re doing at the farm is important. “This really does, I think, bring out the child in all of us and the opportunity to look at life through a different lens, and I think that’s what Storybook has done for me.”
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