Who doesn't love a pair of mini-horses?

Sarah Duval certainly did when the 11-year-old received a surprise visit from Mr. Buttons and Idaho courtesy of Lifting Spirits Miniature Therapy Horses of Andover.

The organization recently brought the mini-horses to her Pasho Street home to bring her joy and, well, lift her spirits during the pandemic.

Sarah has been battling B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia since May. She is now finishing her second round of chemotherapy. 

Maggie Dwyer, 6, of Chelmsford, is battling the same cancer as Sarah and came to the mini-horse visit with her mom, Heather Dwyer, a guidance counselor at Andover High.

The girls spent time outdoors with the therapy horses and Sarah even braided Idaho's mane. 

"These house calls are critical in keeping the children safe at home and still bringing a bit of joy to what has been a very dark time," said Lifting Spirits founder Toni Hadad of Andover, who also owns Ultimate Perk on Main Street with her husband.

"Not only are these children facing serious illnesses, but they are limited in where they can go and who can visit them due to the pandemic," she added. "These horses are truly essential workers."

Sarah, who is about to enter sixth grade at Doherty Middle School, confirmed that Mr. Buttons and Idaho were a lot of fun. 

"The visit from the minis made me feel happy in a tough time in my life," she said. "I was glad that I had the chance to share this experience with my friend Maggie."

Sarah plays hockey and soccer when she is healthy. She is the daughter of Stacy and Greg Duval and has two siblings, Molly, 16, and Jacob, 14.

The family has a GoFundMe page to help with their daughter's medical bills: gofundme.com/f/4dfm7r-sarah-strong.












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