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News

One Little Girl and One Big Heart

October 15th, 2016

By Amanda Champa

7-year-old Lyla Follmer is a girl with a heart bigger than her size. She was born with congenital birth defects, a premature baby with only one lung and a non-functional thumb. She wasn’t supposed to live—she is Greg and Marie’s miracle baby. Lyla's parents and family take every year as a blessing for her. She has the hardest time during cold and flu season due to respiratory failure. She had a brain injury and has spinal problems that weaken her balance.

“Others can play soccer, she shows horses. This is her thing,” said Marie. Greg and Marie are so proud of everything she does and how far she has come. They are happy that she is happy. Follmer is an extremely vivacious and social girl who is constantly smiling. Going to school was something that was thought to be next to impossible for Lyla, but with her aspiration and dedication, it was possible.

At the age of four Lyla got involved with equine therapy. They were invited to Congress by Stockhands Horses for Healing, a horse therapy center north of Columbus. Greg and Marie didn’t know much about Congress, except for Greg’s knowledge from growing up around farms. Lyla showed a horse named Sir Illusionist, “Shelly”, who is 28 years old in the EWD (Equestrians With Disabilities) class to Congress on Saturday, and walked out with a shiny participation medal. Stockhands is kind enough to spray down the barns before she shows to help with her breathing. As her parents watched her walk out with her ribbon, they were screaming out her nickname, “Go Big!!”. "Shelly's" original owner even came from Texas to watch her compete.

Wonderful contributors to Lyla’s success are nurses and local fireman being there every step of the way for her. Showing and going to equine therapy doesn’t just make Lyla happy, but it helps with her scoliosis. “It is just an honor if she can make it through this, she can conquer anything”, says Marie.

Lyla has two 14-year-old twin brothers named Greyson and Skylar and a 15-year-old sister named Malia. Her brothers and sister are true life savers for Lyla, they have truly dedicated their lives to help her.

Lyla has been around horses her whole life and they have helped her so much. “My favorite part about Congress is that I get to spend time with horses,” said Lyla. Hannah Ritter, a volunteer who has been working with Lyla for six weeks, had nothing but good things to say about her. Ritter teaches Lyla lessons and helps her understand the basic rules, pleasure riding and horse safety. “Lyla is very outgoing, works hard and she tries her best in everything she does,” said Ritter. Lyla is more than happy to be here at Congress doing what she loves.