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Riding On A Dream

Reprinted with permission from the Lexington Herald-Leader

By Barbara Isaacs
Herald-Leader Staff Writter

It was a pure Kentucky wish, Morgan Pfost, 12, a Lexington liver transplant survivor, had always dreamed of a horse of her own. Knowing a horse wasn't a practical wish, she instead hoped for riding lessons when the Make-A-Wish Foundation asked her what she's like, Yesterday, Morgan got her wish and more.

At the grand opening of Kentucky's Make-A-Wish foundation office, Morgan was granted unlimited riding lessons and a tall, 16-year-old chestnut horse. Morgan and her mother wept as the horse trailer pulled up. After a bugler played the call to the post, the horse, which goes by the name Sampson, was eating peppermints from Morgan's hand.

The horse was the first granted at the Make-A-Wish office. The charity grants wishes to children who have life-threatening illnesses. "It was really exciting," Morgan said as she petted the horse and kissed him repeatedly on the nose. "She has loved horses since she could walk," said Morgan's mother., Shelly Pfost. "My eyes just wlled up when they told me about the horse. She has a room full of plastic horses -- and that was all I ever thought she'd own. She's getting everything she wanted."

Morgan had a liver transplant in October 1990, when she was 16 months old. She was born with biliary artresia, which means her bile ducts weren't formed correctly. In the 11 years since her transplant, she's had two serious episodes or organ rejection, including one 14 months ago.

Sampson, an American Saddlebred show horse whose official name is Yorktime, was donated by Premier Stables in Simpsonville. Sampson's owners, Sarah and Rob Byers, will continue to house the horse at their stable, where people ride him for lessons, and will pay for his other needs. "It's the best of scenarios for her, and for us", said Sarah Byers.

Sampson also got the seal of approval from Rodger "Kentucky Joe" Bingham of Cittendan and of Survivor: The Australian Outback fame, who was on hand for the event. "I'll tell you what, that's a good-looking horse," Bingham told Morgan. In addition to Sampson, Morgan received unlimited riding lessons from McConnell Stables in Versailles.

"She really took right to the horses," Julie McConnell, one of the owners, said of Morgan's initial visit to the stable. The girl went stall to stall bearing carrots and peppermints to make friends. "She went around the whole barn and met every one." Morgan also received a gift certificate for ridding apparel, a subscription to a horse related magazine, a horse grooming kit, a halter and other items.

Morgan, her parents Mike and Shelly Pfost, and her sisters Zoe, 5 and Willow, 2 cruised over to Louisville in a limousine. It picked Morgan up at Leestown Math, Science and Technology Magnet school, where she is in sixth grade. "She was so excited about the limo ride," Shelly Pfost said. "But she had no idea what was waiting for her on the end."

The new Kentucky Make-A-Wish office means more local wishes will be granted. The charity recently received a $100,000 corporate grant, which will pay for 20 wishes. Kentucky children were granted wishes before, but the office was based in southern Ohio.

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