Gifted horse a dream come true for young Edmonton girl with cystic fibrosis

Eleven-year-old Sydni Grono has been battling cystic fibrosis since 2006, and has always wanted a horse of her own. Her wish came true on Monday.

The Children's Wish Foundation surprised 11-year-old Sydni Grono with her own horse on Monday

Sydni Grono, 11, hugs her new horse, Java. (CBC)

A dose of Java got an 11-year-old girl's week off to a great start.

Sydni Grono couldn't stop smiling Monday afternoon as she was handed the reins to Java, an espresso brown Canadian warmblood mare. It was a dream come true and a big surprise for Grono, who's been saving to buy Java for months.

The $8,000 horse came free of charge thanks to The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada.

In 2006, Grono was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. Her love for riding and jumping horses keeps her mind off the disease, but she never thought she'd get one of her very own.

"It's amazing what they've done for Sydni. It's amazing what they've done through generosity and kindness and thoughtfulness," said Grono's mother, Lisa.

"It gives her something else to focus on, something to work for, a reason to take care of herself. It's her passion, it'll take the focus off all the other stuff she has to work hard doing. This is a wish we would never be able to afford to give her."

Grono knew she wanted to buy Java months ago. Her father, Shawn, said she had a bulletin board posted in her room of chores she could do to earn money for the horse, and she collected bottles over the summer to earn extra cash as well. She had saved about $1,000.

The Children's Wish Foundation surprised 11-year-old Sydni Grono with her own horse on Monday. 1:11

Alongside Java, Sydni will receive lessons, a spot to keep the horse in the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association's (WELCA) stables, tack and food. The gift is worth around $20,000 altogether, and was made possible by donations from The Children's Wish Foundation, WELCA and Barcol Doors and Windows.

Diane David, Administrative Director of the WELCA, said 11-year-old Java is a "beautiful" little mare who will be great for the young rider.

"She likes to jump, she's pretty sprightly and interested in people and she's very curious and loving towards her friends," David said. "I think Sydni's really going to love her."

Grono thought she was coming to the WELCA on Monday for a riding lesson. Seeing a crowd in the stands to cheer her on tipped her off that something bigger might be happening, she said.

The first thing she's going to do? Take her for a ride, of course.

"I want to do some shows with her probably next year or something, because I love horses," Grono said.

"She's really good, and I love her."


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