Choosing Gratitude this Thanksgiving

In the Mountain’s Shadow
Lies a valley of angels
Some cannot speak …
Yet their hearts sing of untold glories
Some cannot walk …
Yet their spirits soar beyond the heavens
Some cannot see …
Yet their eyes behold the light beyond the darkness
All are miracles

Dear Mountain Shadows Family:
As the holiday season approaches, I’d like to ask you something:
How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow morning and could no longer see – see the beauty of a sunrise? Or hear the song of a nightingale? Or say the words I love you?
These are difficult questions and, if you are like me, your first thoughts might be of despair, of loss, of sadness.
And if it was my baby, an innocent child, who would never see the light of day, who would never hear the sound of my voice, who would never walk along the ocean’s shore feeling the waves splashing at his feet, I might be beyond despair.
Yet, when I read stories like the one below, about Nicholas, who lives in Mountain Shadows Joshua House, and his mother, Susie, I realize that if we choose to look deeper, we just may find miracles rather than misery, gladness rather than grief, and wonder rather than woe in the answers to these questions.
As Nicholas and Susie’s story demonstrates, there are times in life when we must choose. We must choose whether to give up – or to give all we can, whatever the circumstances.
And how we choose to answer makes all the difference.
On this holiday of Thanksgiving, I am so grateful to Nicholas and Susie, and to all the resident angels who live in the Mountain’s Shadow, who light the way, and teach us that life is a miracle – a gift to be cherished in whatever form it takes.
And for all life, may we choose to be grateful.
From our entire Mountain Shadows Family to you and yours,
Happy Thanksgiving,

Executive Director

Riverside Adaptive Swim Program: Mother & Son Navigate Uncharted Waters
By Sheryl Wilde
Life is like a journey … 
The eyes fixed downward – it is a trait known as “sun-setting.” The most obvious trait though, is the unusually large head size.
“It was a difficult pregnancy,” says Susie Henson, Nick’s mom. “Problems were diagnosed in utero. The doctor said that if I continued the pregnancy, if my baby boy survived at all, I would be lucky to spend an hour with him.
“Nick was born with very significant hydrocephalus. His head was SO big. But I didn’t even see it. I was completely in love with Nick the minute he was born.
“It was a difficult birth. Terrifying. I was told over and over by the doctors and nurses that he would not live. But Nick’s attitude from birth was, ‘You’ve got another thing coming! I’m here!!!’ He was striving from the first minute.
… into uncharted waters for us all …
“From then on, life was completely different. But I never, not once, felt life was over. It never felt that way to me. I thought, ‘I can be upset and say life is terrible, or I can say this is an opportunity to see the world through another set of eyes. What does it look like?’
“Parents are often so concerned about having the perfect child. Nick gave me a whole different perspective on life. I hoped that somehow I could help others understand that while Nick may not look like others, he was perfect too.
“During the first year, it became clear what the future would hold. It was a tough year. Intimidating. Any infant needs a lot of care. Nick needed more. A lot more. He was having seizures. Bad seizures. And a host of other medical issues. I was a single mom. I was up all night feeding Nick and giving him medications for seizures. During the day, I was taking him to lots of doctor appointments. I also had to work a full-time job and keep my head on straight with no sleep. It was hard, but we were both OK.
“Then, when Nick was about four months old, he was diagnosed as being blind. That hit me like a ton of bricks. For me, there is so much joy in the small things in life.Seeing the sky at sunset. Seeing the stars. Seeing the green of the hills. Seeing all of that beauty brings me such joy. And then, along with everything else, the doctors told me Nick would never be able to see.
“I was devastated, barely functioning. I cried for two weeks. But then, after those two weeks, I thought, ‘Crying is no good!’ I snapped out of it. And that was the end of it. It was time to be action-oriented and positive. Being positive is a choice. I knew we could get through it. I knew we could be a good pair together.
If you become preoccupied with avoiding potential pain …
“Nick just turned 20 in October. We have had so many good years together. There have been lots of struggles – but they have been really, really good years.”
“Susie has been a life-long caregiver for Nicholas,” says Shannon Reilly, QIDP/AMountain Shadows – Riverside. “She is super devoted and passionate about him.
“Nick came to Mountain Shadows in May of 2016. He has Cerebral Palsy, a seizure disorder, and has been diagnosed with a profound intellectual disability. He’s non-verbal and non-ambulatory. He’s also cortically blind. But he can hear. He can feel. He can touch.”
“Moving Nick to Mountain Shadows was hard at first,” says Susie. “It took a year of counseling to make the decision. I had so much doubt. Did I do the right thing? Is he miserable? Does he want to tell me he wants to come home? But now I see him and he’s well-adjusted. He receives great care. He’s with similar people. The care staff is always there. It’s the right thing.
“I knew Nick was home two months after he moved into Mountain Shadows. I went to visit him at the house and everyone was there – Christopher, Lexi, Hydria, Marquez – all of his roommates. And they were all so excited to tell me all about Nick and what they had done that day. They were laughing. I could see they really cared and were interested in Nick. They could recount his day! They were keeping an eye on him.
“They all have dinner together. Everyone talks. They engage. Every time I walk in the house, everyone shouts ‘Susie!’ – like with Norm from Cheers. I love it.”
Adds Shannon, “Mountain Shadows is not just a facility to Nick and Susie. This is home – and Nick’s roommates are friends. He loves everyone and they love him.
You will miss the glory of the sunsets …
“When we started the swim program at Cove Water Park, Susie was interested and wanted Nick to participate. The Mountain Shadows Foundation agreed to pay for Nick’s lessons and purchased swim toys and pool rings for him.
“Nick normally keeps to himself. He loves attention, but doesn’t seek it out. Swimming is one-on-one. He gets so much attention – and he loves it! He loves being in the water. He did great from the very first day.
“There are so many benefits to the swim program – the sensory inputs, the feeling of buoyancy, the sounds, the social aspects.
“Since Nick has been involved in the swim program, I’ve seen positive change in his range of motion. He’s pushing to do new things. He loves being in the new environment and being around people. It’s been a very healthy change for him.
“Susie was at the pool on the first day of classes. I could tell she wanted to get in the water with Nick, so I told her she could go in. And when she went into the water, it was amazing. Nick can’t see, so he attaches to voices. When he heard his mom’s voice near him, he was so excited!
“Then, from the side of the pool, I asked Susie, ‘When was the last time you got to hold your son?’ She just stood there quietly in the water for a while, looking at me like she might cry. And she said, ‘I can’t remember.’
… on the ocean of your life …
“And then – it was so beautiful! Susie opened her arms wide and, due to the buoyancy of the water, Nick just floated right in to her outstretched arms. And she held him – she held her son in her arms again, much like she would have cradled him when he was a young boy, for the first time in more than a decade. I could see the smiles on both of their faces from all the way across the pool. They were just beaming! There was so much love between them. It was so moving. It was a great reminder of why we do what we do.”
“It was a beautiful moment for both of us,” says Susie. “Due to Nick’s condition and his size, it had been a long time since I’d been able to hold him, really hold him like that. We both needed that.
“Everyone at Mountain Shadows is incredible,” says Susie. “The care givers are amazing. I know they do what they do because it’s in their heart. That’s so evident every time I go there. It’s not about the money for them. They are there because they have genuine compassion for all of the children. I am so grateful for all they are doing for Nick. I know he’s at a good place now. I know he’s home.”
With his eyes fixed downward, Nick may never see the sun setting across the sky. His ocean, for now, may be a pool. Yet there is such glory in his life – in the sound of a voice reaching out to him through the darkness, and in the feeling of touch – a mother embracing him with love.
And he is the perfect child.
Life is like a journey into uncharted waters for us all. If you become preoccupied with avoiding potential pain, you will miss the glory of the sunsets on the ocean of your life ~ Teal Swan

An Ace for Johanna

Do you remember the last time you walked barefoot on the beach?
Thanks to the support of participants, like you, in our Annual Fall Classic Golf Tournament, Mountain Shadows resident, Johanna, was able to live her dream and see the ocean for the first time in her life.
Johanna, an Olive House resident, is confined to a wheelchair. She’s considered “medically fragile” and needs assistance with most of her daily activities, like showering, eating and even using the bathroom.
While she will never walk barefoot on the beach as you and I can, thanks to a specially designed wheelchair, Johanna was able to put her feet in the sand – to feel the warmth of the sand between her toes.  She was able to smell the salty sea air.  She even kicked her feet in the water – oh, she kicked and kicked and kicked!!!  She just didn’t want to stop kicking!  And she was screaming at the top of her lungs and laughing – she just couldn’t stop laughing.
She didn’t want to leave.
Her eyes brimming with tears of joy, she asked, “Can I come back next year?”
With your support – she can.
We invite you to help us help others like Johanna. There are three ways you can help:
Social Event Sponsorship – Opportunities include:
Table Favor $25 – Centerpiece $50 – Table $100
Goods/Services Donations: Please contact Fred Lindahl at 760-888-4302 if you have donations of gift certificates, goods or services that can be used to raise funds through an auction/raffle opportunity at the Fall Classic.
Attend! Join the Foundation Directors and community supporters for a fabulous day of golf or pamper yourself at the beautiful and relaxing Santaluz Spa. Space is limited, so please register by clicking the link below to reserve your spot!
We look forward to seeing you Monday, October 23rd at the Santaluz Club!  Your support will help give hope to all those we serve.
Wade Wilde
Executive Director
Mountain Shadows Foundation
Tournament Sponsors
To learn more about our sponsors click on their logo below.
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A Swing for Hope

Mila loves to sing.
Thanks to you, and other supporters like you, Mila, who was born in a shower during the middle of the night to a 13-year-old girl who didn’t even know she was pregnant, is alive now.
Thanks to your support, this beautiful little girl, who was diagnosed with a grade 4 brain hemorrhage – this little girl who no one thought would survive – is walking and talking and thriving now!
Thanks to your support, Mila received the loving and specialized care she needed – physical and occupational therapy, advanced medical care from neurologists, ophthalmologists, audiologists, and more – from Mountain Shadows.
Thanks to your support, Mila is with her forever family now. Her life is filled with hope. She’s a happy young girl, bursting with energy – and she just loves to sing!
And thanks to your support, she has good reason to.
Please click on the link below to hear more about Mila and hear her song of hope.
Thanks to your support, we help children like Mila achieve their greatest potential each day.
We invite you to help us help others, like Mila, by joining us at our 25th Annual Fall Classic Golf Tournament & Spa Experience Monday, October 23, 2017, at the exclusive Santaluz Club in San Diego. Please click on this link to register today.
We look forward to seeing you Monday, October 23rd at the Santaluz Club!  Your support will help give hope to all those we serve.
Wade Wilde
Executive Director
Mountain Shadows Foundation
Tournament Sponsors
To learn more about our sponsors click on their logo below.
  Stay Connected           Like us on Facebook          View our videos on YouTube

Call Fore Support

Your Support is Needed!
Mountain Shadows Foundation
presents the
25th Annual Fall Classic Golf Tournament & Spa Experience
Mountain Shadows Foundation will be hosting our 25th Annual Fall Classic Golf Tournament & Spa Experience Monday, October 23, 2017, at the exclusive Santaluz Club in San Diego. The Fall Classic is our premier annual fundraising event, which directly supports Mountain Shadows Support Group in San Diego and Riverside, as well as Mountain Shadows Ancillary Services, which offers a broad range of support, including early childhood development, respite services, adult training programs, and transportation services to over 360 persons with intellectual disabilities and other developmental delays.
We are seeking your support for our Fall Classic fundraising event and offer three ways in which you can help.


Social Event Sponsorship – Opportunities include:

Table Favor $25 – Centerpiece $50 – Table $100

Goods/Services Donations.  Please contact Fred Lindahl at
760-888-4302 if you have donations of gift certificates, goods or services that can be used to raise funds through an auction/raffle opportunity at the Fall Classic.
Attend!  Join the Foundation Directors and community supporters for a fabulous day of golf or pamper yourself at the beautiful and relaxing Santaluz Spa. Space is limited, so please register by clicking here to reserve your spot!
In this economic climate, your support is critical and deeply appreciated. Mountain Shadows must continue to invest in talented people, new technology and facilities so that the finest possible care is right here for those who need it most, our residents and consumers.
We have gone yet another year with no increase to our reimbursement rates (revenue), yet the cost to provide services continues to rise. Every $25, $50 or perhaps as much as $100 you invest in Mountain Shadows is combined with the support of others to help close this budget freeze gap and make ends meet.  Please open your hearts and donate today! 
Your support will help improve the lives of all those we serve. 
Wade Wilde
Executive Director
Mountain Shadows Foundation

Tournament Sponsors
To learn more about our sponsors click on their logo below.


Tournament Sponsor


Open Sponsor

Open Sponsor

Open Sponsor
Dinner Sponsor
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An Act of Giving Generates Love and Likes


An Act of Giving Generates Love and Likes
By: Sheryl Wilde
Who’s the “World’s Cutest Guinea Pig”?  If you follow the latest celebrity animals on the internet (and who doesn’t?) you may already know these four-legged legends:
  • Boo the Pomeranian – touting two books, a calendar and a stuffed animal line, Boo has amassed more than 7 million friends on Facebook.
  • Grumpy Cat has racked up over 11 million YouTube hits, a Forbes interview, and a spot on The Today Show since her photo was posted on Reddit. Grumpy Cat also has a book and her own website.
  • Tillman the Skateboarding Dog is a droopy-faced bulldog with the soul of Tony Hawk.  Tillman holds the Guinness World Record for “fastest 100 meter on a skateboard by a dog” and starred in both an Apple ad and a commercial for Armstrong Flooring. His video has now been watched nearly 21 million times.
Well, the dogs – and cats – have had their day we say!  And who’s the newest celebrity animal on the block?  It’s a cream-colored cavy named Booboo – a guinea pig who already has over 17,000 followers on Instagram.
Now, some have called Booboo the “World’s Cutest Guinea Pig” but we beg to differ.  You see, Olive House has just adopted the most adorable guinea pig on the planet.
Sure the American Blonde, Booboo, is cute in her hipster glasses and has flowers in her hair, but Fozzy, our gentle, golden-furred rodent is much more than just fluff.
“Olive is the largest house on campus,” says Jennifer Velazquez, RC, Olive House.  “We have 13 residents and they are considered more medically fragile than all of our other Mountain Shadows residents.  Many are non-verbal and about half can’t eat on their own and require G-Tube feeding.”
Finding new and effective ways to serve the Olive House population, to connect with them, to enrich their lives, is ever on our minds at Mountain Shadows.  And when Fozzy, the white-nosed guinea pig was first introduced to our resident, Vickie, we knew we were on to something – something really good!
“Vickie is non-verbal and doesn’t interact with others much,” says Trisha Brodd, QIDP.  “When she saw Fozzy, she got so excited, she squealed and started laughing.  That was huge!  Now Vickie and Fozzy are best friends.  Vickie and all of our non-verbal residents love touching him and holding him.
“Johanna loves to sit on the recliner with Fozzy in her lap.  The residents and staff really care about him and have bonded with him.”
“My best friend for 20 years, Trina Manes, and her family, generously donated Fozzy to us,” says Stacy Sullivan, Director of Operations.    “He’s become our Mountain Shadows mascot.  It’s been really fun to watch the residents holding him, wanting to take care of him.”
“Fozzy was born to a family in Descanso and given as a gift to my parents,” says Trina.  “When my parents had to move, Fozzy became part of our family.  As the kids have become older, and more involved in sports and school activities, we had less time for him.  He is very social- he would talk to me every morning and gives great Eskimo kisses. I felt he needed more interaction and attention than we could provide. I struggled with giving him to just anybody though as he is a special animal.
“While sharing my pet woes with Stacy, she had the great idea of bringing Fozzy to Mountain Shadows.  She shared the new campaign “Because I care” and thought Fozzy could be incorporated into this idea. Fozzy would not only provide companionship for the residents but also encourage their participation by allowing them to care for another living being.

“It was a little bit of a hard sell to my children initially. But after visiting the homes and meeting some of the residents, we all knew Mountain Shadows would be a perfect fit for Fozzy.

“We couldn’t be happier with his new family at Mountain Shadows.”

“Fozzy was a little shy at first,” says Jennifer. “But he got used to all of us quickly.  Now he loves being held and he’s very spoiled.  He has his own fenced area outside where he plays in the grass.  We all give him lots of treats.  He absolutely loves bell peppers and grapes.  He doesn’t want to eat his guinea pig food anymore.  I think he’s gained a little weight.”
So, sure, Booboo is cute with her heart-shaped glasses and flowers in her hair, but Fozzy is all that – and so much more.  He wiggles his nose and makes Vickie laugh.  He purrs when Steve pets him.  He runs barefoot through the grass for Andrea as she watches from her wheelchair and squeals with delight.  And he chills in the La-Z-Boy with Johanna at the end of a busy day.
Fozzy makes everybody smile.
So move over Boo, and Grumpy Cat, and Tillman, and even Booboo too – because Fozzy’s the World’s Cutest Guinea Pig in our eyes, and the most loved too.
Help us raise awareness about Mountain Shadows and make our Fozzy the newest internet sensation – click on the icons at the beginning of the story to like, share, and tweet his story and pictures with everyone you know!
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14th.
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donate to Mountain Shadows Support Group!
Please click below.
Mountain Shadows Support Group 
970 Los Vallecitos Blvd., Suite 240 | San Marcos, CA  92069

M:POWR Exhibition of Art

We invite you to an incredibly amazing, warm and wonderful collaboration between Mountain Shadows Outreach Services, Art Miles Mural Project, and California State University San Marcos – Tukwut Leadership Center.
For more information about this event please contact Flor Angel,
Mountain Shadows Outreach Director, at or 760-736-8983.

Eagle Scout Christian Bowen


Eagle Scout Christian Bowen and Mountain Shadows Connect4 Fun
By: Sheryl Wilde
Connect4 is a vertical game of tic-tac-toe. Players take turns dropping colored discs from the top into a seven-column, six-row, vertically suspended grid. The pieces fall straight down, occupying the next available space in the column. The objective of the game is to be the first one to form a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of four discs. The first player can always win – Connect4 – by playing the right moves.
Christian Bowen, nephew of Pine House resident, Mark, loved to play Connect4 as a child. He spent many hours playing the game – planning winning game strategies, laughing, and just enjoying the time spent with his friends. Little did he know that his childhood pastime would lead to another kind of win in life.
“My uncle Mark loves Pine House,” says Christian. “He lived in multiple care facilities before finding Mountain Shadows, and he didn’t like any of them. Now, when we take him out for dinner, he always asks what his roommates are doing back at home. He wants to be back at Pine House with them. He enjoys being there. We are so thankful to have Mountain Shadows.”
As do many young men his age, fifteen-year-old Christian is already planning for college. But, what sets him apart, perhaps, from many of his peers is his commitment to what he believes to be most important at this stage in his life: achieving good grades and staying close to God. The foundation of many of his character traits were cultivated in the Boy Scouts of America.
“I started in the Boy Scouts when I was seven-years-old. The Scouts taught me so many skills not learned in school. I feel more accomplished, well-rounded, from what I’ve learned in the Scouts.”
Christian was recently awarded the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest designation attainable in the Boy Scouts. In order to receive this ranking, Christian was required to lead a project to benefit the community. His thoughts for a service project immediately turned to his uncle Mark and Mountain Shadows, the community he now called home.
“When Christian contacted us, offering to do a service project for us, we were thrilled,” says Arlene Galvan, Director of Program Development, Mountain Shadows Support Group. “It’s always difficult for us to find games that meet the needs of our residents and clients, so we thought that would be a perfect project for Christian.
“We did some research and agreed it would be a great idea to build a Connect4 game for our Outreach clients. We needed a larger version of the game, wheelchair height, so the clients could roll-up to it and play while in their wheelchairs. When we contacted Christian with the idea, he said, ‘Oh yes! We can do this!'”
“It had never come to my mind to create a version of the Connect4 game for Mountain Shadows,” adds Christian. “That I had enjoyed the game as a child made it that much more motivating, not only to create it, but to deliver the final product to the people of Mountain Shadows.
“The idea was to build a Connect4 game out of wood. It took 25 people 4 days to build it. We designed it, bought the wood, cut and painted it. And it worked! It looks cool. It’s about 4 feet high, with larger discs so the residents can use it while in their wheelchairs.”
“Christian and all of the Scouts did an amazing job!” says Flor Angel, Program Director of Outreach. “The clients love it! They play with it all the time. It’s so fun for all of the clients.
“Mark especially is really excited about the game. He knows his nephew built it. He was so excited when Christian brought the Connect4 game over here. He was very proud of his nephew.”
Staying connected – with friends, with family, with life – when you are disabled can be challenging. Mobility, mental, and physical differences can make simple things that many of us take for granted, like playing a game with a friend, more difficult.
Christian Bowen and the Boy Scouts made all the right moves. Thanks to their generous efforts, our Mountain Shadows Outreach clients can now Connect4 Fun – learning and laughing together – and connecting through the simple joy of play.
Horizontal, vertical, diagonal – whichever way you line it up – we’d say that’s a big win for everyone.
To help Mountain Shadows Outreach clients like Mark
continue to live more fulfilling and active lives,
please click below.

Don King: On Kilimanjaro


By: Sheryl Wilde
It was like living in a barbeque pit for 9 days – a barbeque pit measuring more than 24 miles across. Ash filled the air – burned the nostrils, the lungs. And the dust. A storm cloud of dust and ash rose on the 50-mile-an-hour winds, relentlessly whipping everything in its path.
It was 20 degrees below zero on that first day – and the air on Kilimanjaro was already getting thin.
“We had a long list of reasons why climbing Kilimanjaro didn’t make sense at all,” says Don King. “We were too old. It was too dangerous. It was too scary. There were many who didn’t think it was possible.”
At 19,341 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit stands in austere grandeur against the Tanzanian sky, claiming its birthright as the highest mountain in Africa. Some 35,000 people attempt to climb the mountain, also known as “The House of God”, each year. Roughly 45% are successful.*
“We started at 7,000 feet. It took us 6 days of hiking very slowly – very, very slowly– to get to base camp at 15,500 feet. If we would have hiked too fast, our bodies would have shut down due to the changes in altitude. Each night at dinner, we passed around the oxygen meter to track how well our bodies were acclimating to the changes in elevation.
“Altitude is the great equalizer. Being able to walk, to talk, to think clearly, to breathe – these are things we take for granted. At 15,000 feet, it takes twice as long to do anything. At 19,000 feet, you struggle just to put two coherent thoughts together. It’s ‘take one step, stop, take a breath … take one step, stop, take a breath.’
“When we reached the top – WOW! None of us could believe we’d made it. We felt so blessed to be there.
“Then, as we stood at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, we looked down and realized we had 15,000 feet of downhill to do in two days.
“As we started back down the mountain, one of my friends started to move too quickly. He walked 25 feet too quickly. He lost all coherency. He didn’t know up from down. He couldn’t move his legs. His body and mind shut down. The guides scooped him up and did a power slide downhill from 19,000 feet to 15,000. Thankfully, he recovered fully.
“It’s amazing what you can do when you just take one slow step after another. We all feel blessed to have done this.”
Pushing himself, and others, beyond perceived limits is nothing new to Don. Known as Pastor Don to our Mountain Shadows community, he is the leader of the Beyond Limits ministry, an adaptive worship service for persons with special needs.
“Our residents had been attending Mission Hills Church for several years,” says Fred Lindahl, Development Director. “Now they hold the Beyond Limits service in the Mary Triplett Park on the Mountain Shadows campus – and it’s a HUGE success!”
“I was at Gateway Church before Mission Hills,” says Don. “The Mountain Shadows folks went there. I was drawn to the group. I sat amongst them as part of the gang. Little did I know I was destined to be a part of their lives so many years down the road.
“Now, each Sunday, we meet in the park at Mountain Shadows and have our own church service for everyone. Everyone gets involved, especially the residents: Heidi sings, “I Can Only Imagine.” Brian sings, “Give Me Jesus.” And Debbie sings and signs both songs. Chris recites The Lord’s Prayer. John is in charge of counting how many people are there. He’s so excited to have a job.
“We sing, we dance, we pray. It’s a Sunday Love Fest! Our motto is: Love God, serve people and bring hope. We do this on whatever level is needed. We give them their own space to do their thing, to shine in their own light.
“I don’t like to use the term Pastor because it’s such a team effort. There are 8 of us from Mission Hills that are blessed to do this. I play a leadership role. I guide, direct, teach, pray, hug, listen, and hug some more. But we all share in the teaching. We all share in the hugs. We all spend time with everyone there. We all do what needs to be done. We all share a passion to be a part of this group. It’s family.
“Every once in a while, someone will ask me, ‘Don’t you feel sorry for the people at Mountain Shadows?’ Heavens no!!! I refer to the residents as having Ph.D.’s in Humanity. Every time they leave campus, they are instructing everyone about what it means to be human. When they approach the world it’s amazing to see their impact on others around them. We learn more from them than they from us.
“They teach us about grace, about spirit. They teach us everybody matters. The wrapping paper may be different, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone is important in God’s plan. We all have hearts and that is all that God is concerned with.
“We can’t out-dream God. Sometimes I get up in the morning and wonder, ‘What’s going to happen today?’ I have no clue. But I’m an optimist. I know something amazing is going to happen. Then God shows up and it always does.
“I stutter, and when I was a child, my mom and dad encouraged me to keep talking. There are plenty of people who stutter and too often they are told to shut up. My parents told me, ‘The world needs to hear what you have to say. The world needs to hear what’s in your heart.’ I believe everyone should have that type of encouragement.”
“Don has also been our Spiritual Leader during resident memorials,” adds Fred. “He and all of the folks at Mission Hills Church have done so much for us. They recently put on a family BBQ at Mountain Shadows. They provided food for all our residents and staff members. They even brought an orchestra!”
“I play the trombone in North County Winds orchestra. We’re a 40-piece concert band and we play all types of music from Chicago, to Santana, to Stevie Wonder, to Eric Clapton. When I mentioned playing at Mountain Shadows, everyone in the band said, ‘Great! When and where?”
Don has climbed Mount Fuji, Mount Whitney, and now Mount Kilimanjaro. He’s also walked the John Muir Trail. What’s next for him?
“At the top of Kilimanjaro, and all the days since, I’ve realized my friends at Mountain Shadows climb that mountain, that path, every day.
“It’s amazing what we can do when we take one slow step at a time. In climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, we did what we didn’t think we could do.
“I want to help others, especially my Mountain Shadows friends, do what they don’t think they can do.”
*Figures published by the Kilimanjaro National Park.
To help Mountain Shadows residents like Heidi, Brian, Debbie,
Chris and John continue to live more fulfilling and active lives,
please click below.

Eagle Transportation: Making Christmas Wishes Come True

By: Sheryl Wilde
The shiny new Mercedes-Benz convertible crashed into the wall of Laurel Park house as Marquez squealed with glee.
The car hit the wall again.
Then, his eyes bright, lost in a world of his imagination, he revved the engine, screeching out a tight 360 with the remote-controlled car.
Many of you may know Marquez, who suffers from Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy. He’s wheelchair bound but nothing can contain his free-wheeling, live life to the fullest spirit. He loves fast cars, baseball, and his older brother Maurice, who is afflicted with the same disease. The brothers were orphaned several years ago when both of their parents died within a month of each other. They were moved to Mountain Shadows soon after.
If all wishes came true, Marquez would be able to stand on his own, pick up the keys to a real Mercedes and walk on his own two legs to the car, then get in and DRIVE!
Unfortunately, due to the debilitating effects of Duchenne’s, Marquez will never be able to do a simple thing like drive a car. But that hasn’t stopped him from dreaming.
When he was a boy, like most boys, he played with toy cars and pushed them along the carpet mimicking the engine’s roar – VROOM! VROOM! And he dreamed of being free to drive – drive to his heart’s desire on the open road with the top down. And with his imagination on fire, he could almost feel the warmth of the sun on the back of his neck as he drove. He could almost see his girlfriend’s long blonde hair blowing gently in the wind as they cruised down the 101. And he would smile and laugh, and sometimes his heartbeat would even quicken as he played with those cars, because the story playing out in his imagination felt so real.
Like many young men his age, Marquez still dreams of sports cars and speed. In fact, when asked what he wanted for Christmas this year, he had but one wish – a remote-controlled toy car. It had to be remote-controlled because he can no longer get down out of his wheelchair to push the car along the floor.
Thanks to Eagle Transportation, his Christmas wish has been granted and Marquez is now driving in his dreams.
“I received a call from Marie Miltimore at Eagle Transportation a few weeks before Christmas,” says Janet Steen, Mountain Shadows – Riverside.  “She said they’d like to buy all of our kids something for the holiday. I was so excited for our kids! To me this is huge that someone who had never even seen our kids wanted to buy presents for them all. This rarely happens for our children. It’s truly a blessing.”
Truly a blessing, especially for Marquez, who otherwise most likely would not have received anything for Christmas.
Says Tom Holt, owner of Eagle Transportation, about why they contacted Mountain Shadows to make this incredible gift, “I love kids. I love ’em point blank. If my wife and I were younger, we would adopt every one of the children at Mountain Shadows. We’ve always been close to our own kids. We’ve devoted our lives to our kids to be honest. And we like to do it. A lot of people, when they have kids, take one big, fancy vacation each year. We do everything as a family – camping, desert riding, school activities, everything. We stayed active and involved with our children every day. And we enjoyed it.
“We started Eagle Transportation about 15 years ago. Since that time, we’ve grown into a multi-million dollar company that provides a wide variety of trucking and transportation services throughout the L.A. basin. We believe it’s important to take time out of life to make someone else happy, someone who can’t do it for themselves. I think if more people took time out to do this, it would be a very nice world.
“I’ll just tell you that I’m a very kindhearted person. Anyone would tell you that. I know I can’t take my money with me, so I try to share it and make as many people happy as possible. That’s probably why I’ll never be rich.
“We started doing this about 4 years ago. We have an army truck and it’s all decorated with lots of lights for Christmas. We started out caroling in the neighborhood on Christmas Eve. Then we started visiting Totally Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in San Bernardino. We park the truck and play Christmas music for the children. Santa and his elves, my grandchildren, are there. We hand out lots of gifts. The kids really enjoy it. We learned about Mountain Shadows through Totally Kids.
“This year, Mike Rodgers and Brandon Myers of Hi-Way Safety in Chino partnered with us. Procast Products donated toys. They are all very loving people.”
“It was rainy and cold on the night Tom and Brandon delivered the toys,” adds Janet. “But as they were taking the toys off the truck, they were both smiling the whole time. I think Tom is a big kid at heart. He likes toys and he loves giving.
“Thanks to Tom and Eagle Transportation, all of our Mountain Shadows kids had a fun and great Christmas, especially Marquez!”
The Mercedes slammed into the wall again.
Marquez maneuvered it back to the center of the room, still lost in his beautiful dream – where his feet can press the gas pedals, where his hands can turn the steering wheel, where he can drive in the sun with the top down, feeling the wind dance across his thick black hair.
Thank you, Eagle Transportation, for making this Christmas wish come true for Marquez – and all of our children at Mountain Shadows – Riverside. Because you took time out to do this, our children’s world is a little bit nicer.
Tom Holt, you are a very kindhearted person. And we will tell everyone that.
To help Mountain Shadows residents like Marquez continue
to live more fulfilling and active lives, please click here.