ENID, Okla. - With a smile, 6-year-old Matthew Hall sits tall on his horse at Bennie's Barn in Enid.
"One, two, three, and you're up in the saddle!"
Staffers smile and offer encouragement as he circles the ring, clearly enjoying himself.
Bennie's Barn is a place where horses rehabilitated from neglect and abuse have a way of ministering to kids like Matthew with disabilities.
This is one of Matthews favorite activities. This kindergarten student from Garber, Oklahoma is a two-time stroke survivor and he also has a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis or NF, which spawns tumors on his nerves.
Dr. Abhishek Bavle, from Jimmy Everest Cancer Center, brings up a brain scan image on his laptop. He points to ghostly white images of tumors in Matthew's brain stem.
"All that is tumor. It's almost like fingers of tumor are infiltrating his brain stem," Dr. Bavle said.
"I thought there was no chance of me being pregnant," says Matthew's mom, Kylie. "We thought we wanted to adopt because we both wanted kids."
Kylie McFeeters has spina bifida, which confines her to a wheelchair. She and her husband, Shane Hall, were stunned by news they were expecting a child almost seven years ago.
Shane Hall also has neurofibromatosis, and the condition created a tumor in his right eye when he was a child. Doctors were forced to remove it.
"I wish I didn't have NF, but since I have it, I know how to deal with it," says Shane.
Considering all the medical issues both mom, dad, and son face, Dr Bavle remarks, "We are always inspired by families like Matthew's because they have beaten a lot of tough odds."
In Matthew's case, he underwent surgeries to restore blood flow to his brain at age two, after he suffered strokes. When doctors found NF tumors in his brain last summer, they began chemotherapy to stop them from growing and doing further damage.
"If we can get these kids to being older, at least a teenager or a young adult, these tumors will stop growing on their own," says Dr. Bavle.
Although Matthew has a lot of weakness on his left side due to the strokes, he still enjoys life.
His passion is monster trucks. He owns an entire collection of toy monster trucks and his parents take him to a Monster Truck show every year for his birthday. The staff at Jimmy Everest know Matthew well, and always ask him the names for all his toy trucks.
His family says the staff here has become their second family, due to all the time they must spend here, and the care they've received. They are hopeful Matthew will continue to grow, heal, and enjoy life.
"He's a miracle child," says Kylie. "My miracle kid."
If you'd like to help children like Matthew, consider donating to JECFriends.org
'Kids with Courage' is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.