EPISODE 37: Miss Sara Faye, Shining Light Equestrian, Equine Therapy for Special Needs Children & Adults

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Now, meet TODAY’S guest:

One of the things I love about hosting this show is bringing you amazing guests with hearts of gold – and the heart of today’s guest shines brightly!

Less than a year ago Miss Sara Faye McGuinness created a 501(c)3 ministry where many would have started a business. That’s because she has a heart for helping children (and adults) with special needs (such as autism and spina bifida) and her equal love for horses. Yet both pale only in comparison to her love of the Lord and her faith in Jesus Christ to provide and help grow her ministry using the gifts she’s been given. She’s brought all of those gifts together in Shining Light Equestrian. 

Look how God works: I was introduced to Sara on a day she “happened” to be visiting a Networking Today International meeting for the first time, where I wasn’t originally scheduled to speak, but there was a cancellation and the woman who schedules the speakers asked if I could fill in at the last minute. Of course I can! After I spoke, as is often the case, there was a line of people wanting to speak with me. But Sara was different. She had her calendar out and wanted to get together – not just “sometime” but to choose a specific time right then and there. I am so glad I said yes! We scheduled a meeting on the spot and within a few days sat down together.

She’s got an amazing story, powerful testimony to the work she does in healing children, and I was

Miranda Parkhill and a happy horse
My daughter with one of Miss Sara’s happy therapeutic horses

immediately drawn to her and her work. Yet here’s the kicker… I’ve never spent any real time around horses in my life. Regardless, I found myself – and I took my 14 year old daughter (the youngest age Sara allows her volunteers to be) – to a borrowed farm / pasture area meeting her herd that weekend. It was a frigid January morning, so Sara cancelled the lessons and my daughter had Miss Sara to herself to learn the ropes – all about leading horses, grooming horses, and catching baby horses in a pasture who only want to run free! She has volunteered almost every weekend since and thinks when she grows up she wants to be just like Miss Sara.

Sara became a Registered Level Path International Instructor in 2006 and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning in 2011. During those years, she worked with thousands of children, adults and families, as well as presented at regional, state and national conferences across the country. In East Tennessee, she created an Evidence-Based Equine Assisted Learning life skills program for at risk youth and alternative schools, foster care, and juvenile court adolescents.

Miss Sara teaching my daughter the actual ropes of tying a perfect knot for horses

Sara is a member of the East Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth Council, Behavioral Health Awareness Coalition, University of Tennessee alumni (Child and Family Studies and Psychology) and has been a foster parent for more than 8 years, in addition to, a Knox County 4-H Leader. She has extensive training , experience and success working with youth and adults who have various special needs or challenges. She has visited 12 countries and previously worked for another premier accredited facility for 8 years prior to branching out to begin this faith-based program on a wing and a prayer.

Two huge Clydesdales – Buzz and Woody – are just a couple of the horses in the Shining Light herd. They were born at the Anheuser-Busch farm, sold at auction and acquired by a an east Tennessee resident who decided to travel and donated them to the ministry, because, he said, they “needed a job.”

The stories and photos she shares on her Facebook page are amazing. And right now she is in the middle of a giant project – moving to a new permanent home.

So here’s the thing… Miss Sara needs financial help making this move. She has a Go Fund Me that is being updated, a new video coming to tell the story of her amazing organization, and is pulling out all the stops to make the grand opening with the mayor a special event. She’s appeared on local TV here (you’ll see a miracle story of a 5 year old girl with spina bifida) and here and has been developing her board and roster of volunteers and sponsors. Immediately they need to raise $3,000 for clearing their new land, but overall they need to raise $510,000. It’s a big need, but she believes God will move the hearts of people who collectively can provide. If you have a love for special needs kids, for rescued horses, or for helping someone follow their dream to serve others selflessly, click the button below to donate, share, and help!