ENID, Okla. (KFOR) – A barn in Enid is the place where miracles are said to be happening.
Children, whose parents were told would never walk or talk, are making huge strides with horse therapy.

Bennie’s Barn is full of horses and hope. It’s where kids like nine-year-old Jener defy the odds. KFOR’s Heather Holeman asked, “What’s your favorite part?” “Riding,” Jener replied. “Do you have a favorite horse?” Heather asked. “Cracker Jack,” he said.

Keith Siragusa teaches 9-year-old Jener Ludwig sign language and motor skills.

“Jener was born with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome,” said Jener’s mom, Joy Ludwig. “He was diagnosed at six days old, and they told us that he may never walk or talk. They have low muscle tone, and so the riding helps with building that core. Scoliosis is very common in these kids, and so when we first started riding, he had a 16 degree curve, and within a year, it had decreased to a four.”

Many parents here credit Bennie Barn’s lead instructor, Keith Siragusa, calling him a “miracle worker.” Keith is a former police officer. He teaches colors, math, sign language and motor and communication skills.

“He performs miracles,” said Charlie Collums, who volunteers at the barn most weekdays. “To look at their smiling faces and see how happy they are. And we have gold medal winners here at the barn for our Special Olympics.”

“I believe magic really happens here,” Amy Melton said. She and her husband Tyler travel all the way from Alva – a three-hour roundtrip – all for their little guy, Miles.

Miles Melton, 3, with horse instructor Keith Siragusa at Bennie’s Barn in Enid.

“Miles is cognitively at a ten-month-old but he’ll be four in March. He has a rare genetic condition called DYRK1A. He’s one of 500 worldwide who have this condition. Miles can’t walk, we have seen so much progress with horse therapy with independent steps, and we just love it,” Amy said.

Mya Lewis, 9, with Keith Siragusa and his fiancee Heather White, who volunteers at Bennie’s Barn.

“My daughter is Mya, she’s 9 and she has Down syndrome,” Melissa Lewis said. “She just shines like a bright star here at the barn. She sits up on the horse so tall, like she owns the world.”

Carter Solorio, 7, counting with Keith Siragusa at Bennie’s Barn.

“Carter, he’s 7. We started out here at age 3. He had a lot of speech delay due to multiple illnesses,” said Carter’s mom, Candace Solorio. “I mean, he’s just a social butterfly, he’ll talk to every human that walks our path now.”

Matthew Schultz, 21, with Keith Siragusa
Bennie’s Barn has a chair for people of all abilities to ride safely.

“It just helps with his balance; he’s paralyzed from the waist down, he was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus,” says 21-year-old Michael Schultz’s mom, Vicki. The barn’s special protective chair allows Michael to ride safely.

The stories are endless, and that’s why volunteer Charlie nominated Keith for a $400 Pay It 4Ward award from First Fidelity Bank. (Watch the video above to see the surprise on Keith’s face!)

“Thank you for all the magic you do for these children, and for all of the magic you do for us, and I can’t think of anybody in the world that deserves this more than you,” Charlie said as she handed the money to Keith. “So, from First Fidelity Bank, I’d like to present you with $400. Thank you!”

A big hug followed as tears streamed down Keith’s cheeks.

“It’s through God. God is what makes everything happen,” Keith said. “I love all my clients like they’re my own, and they are my own because that’s the way we operate around here. People use the term ‘disabled.’ They’re not disabled. They have different abilities and we work on those disabilities so that the ‘dis’ disappears.”

Bennie’s Barn is for all ages and abilities. It includes everything from therapy, to trail rides, to barrel racing, even weddings! They’re building a much bigger barn that will open soon, and they’re always looking for more volunteers. Click here for more information.

Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.