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Terry O'Neil

Terry O'Neil
Sandy Hook, CT United States
Stuff About Me:

~~Terry O’Neil’s Biography

     My life is a regular dog and pony show. Our dog Yoda came from the Newtown Animal Center and graduated in the first class of Newtown Strong Therapy Dogs (shelter dogs are amazing!!). I have been a professional horsewoman since the age of 15. I live with my wonderful husband Neal on our horse farm in Sandy Hook and we have been happily married since 2010. I am an active parishioner at St. Rose in Newtown; I love my church and my parish family. I have two children, Dan and Kacy Foehrenbach. Dan is a 29 year old man with autism who lived at home before moving into a group home 6 years ago. He competes in Connecticut Special Olympics; winning medals in bowling as well as track and field. Kacy currently runs a day care center and I actually work for her three days a week. We are all still very active in each other’s lives. Everyone tries to attend Dan’s Olympic events. I will be sharing this Ragner experience with Kacy and her boyfriend Mike Caterson. Kacy, Mike and I also train together at Extreme Fitness Martial Arts. Neal prefers a different style and currently holds a 6th degree master-level black belt in Tang Soo Do.
     Dan was the first student to go from segregated special education to inclusion. It was a huge undertaking; for Dan, for me and for the school system as well. It was a life-changing experience for everyone involved. I had to learn the applicable laws and ensure the school system was compliant in every regard. It consumed a great deal of my time and energy but was well worth it. Through inclusion, Dan became an active member of the school’s social life. He made friends, was invited to birthday parties and had the opportunity to form relationships that have lasted to this day.
     I met the Hockley family when they started working out at Extreme Fitness during the fall of 2011. Nicole heard me talking about Dan and told me that she had a son named Dylan who was also on the autism spectrum; I felt a connection with her right away. We shared our autism stories with each other, both the good and the bad.  Nicole and Ian had a good sense of humor and I felt we had much in common. Much has been learned about autism since Dan was Dylan’s age. I was excited to see what Dylan’s life could be like with today’s knowledge of autism. In the late fall of 2012 Nicole and talked about riding lessons for her two boys. I wanted to wait until spring when the weather was warmer. Horses can be life-changing; horses changed Dan’s life immensely.
     I won’t get to teach Dylan to ride. So I will run for him. Every step I take while training, and during the 5k’s and Ragnar in May, I will think of him. I will see his beautiful smile and hear his wonderful laughter. And I will think of all the amazing differences his foundation will make in the lives of special needs children everywhere.



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