Unexpected animals bring comfort to area hospital patients


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Four the past four years, Andrea Ebert has been traveling around the state with her mini horses. 

Ebert says she originally wanted to purchase the horses for fun, but quickly decided she would use them for therapy instead. Ebert says there are not many organizations in the United States that do what she does.

"The horses, actually it's medically proven, they lower your blood pressure and increase your endorphins," Ebert says." It's a great stress relief."

One place the horses visit often is HSHS St. John's Children's Hospital. The horses trot their way to Springfield almost once a month.

"Our very first visit to St. Johns, there was one little girl. She had been in the hospital for weeks," Ebert says." After we left, her mother told me that was the first time she had smiled in weeks."

The hospital asks the community to participate in the "Make May Matter" campaign. Program Coordinator for the Children's Miracle Network at HSHS St. John's, Dave Newton, says the horses help the children heal.

"The 'Make May Matter' campaign is really doing two things," Newton says. "One, it's bringing awareness too important programs and incentives like the mini horses, but it's also conveying a need for building a brand new NICU or getting more visits from the horses.

Newton says for every 100 dollars raised means another visit from the mini horses. 

"They knew they had a hit when they first came and the kids got to see the horses for the first time," Newton says. "When the mini horses walk into a room they have the look of wow whats happening right now, but then they realize these are therapy horses and they loved to be petted."

To donate the "Make May Matter" campaign, you can visit the HSHS St. John's Facebook page or CMN.org. 

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