INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A routine day of therapy for 7-year-old Calem became anything but when IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson surprised him during his session, providing a nice break in routine for both Calem and Stefan.
"Being able to do things like that and have these really cool people in their communities come out makes it that much cooler and that much more special for them," occupational therapist Kaylin Shiver said.
"It's easy to get wrapped up in what we are doing right now or what we are doing next but when you're out here, it's great to disconnect and see how your involvement and interaction can make a difference in someone else's life,” Wilson explained.
"It was pretty fun working today,” Calem said. “You get on the horse and you do activities and we do all kinds of stuff. We were doing rings and then I went backwards and I went sideways again."
To better understand the benefits of this equine-assisted therapy, Calem helped pick out a helmet for me, so I could take a turn, on Thor, one of the veteran therapy horses.
"When the kids are riding on these horses, they are getting all of this great strengthening work and coordination work and sensory input that's really helping their bodies, to figure out what they need to be doing,” Kaylin explained.
“A lot of the kids that we see here they have diagnoses like autism, cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, genetic conditions. With the horse we see those therapeutic gains a lot faster."
After getting hands-on experience, the Andretti Autosport driver has an even greater appreciation for how kids will benefit from next week's Horsepower 500 fundraiser.
“When you see the work that's done here, and how meaningful it is, I'm so proud to be representing Children's TherAplay and am really excited for the Horsepower 500."
The Horsepower 500 will include 14 top IndyCar drivers racing for a TherAplay teammate.
Last year, the tricycle race raised $18,000 to fund the pediatric therapy programs.
For more information on the Horsepower 500, click here.