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"Participating in a therapeutic
riding program was one
of the best decisions that I
have made since returning
home from four combat tours
in Iraq. Being around my
horse made me feel relaxed
and calm. He brought out
some feelings that I haven't
used much while I was in
Iraq. I felt compassion and
wanted to earn his trust.
I feel better around my horse
than any amount of medication
has made me feel."

— SGT Kenny Sunada
(Courtesy of SPUR )
Sanctuary Island, Inc,.
is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit public charity

Our Story

In 2006 a mother, who is also a professional nurse, asked her son Marc, a Barry University Communications graduate on disability due to cerebral palsy, to volunteer and write health teaching literature for children based on his personal experiences. He agreed and wrote a book called Peter the Peteeatrick Panda’s™ Playground. This colorful, whimsical book introduces Peter the Panda who teaches life lessons to children ages 4-12 in a positive and fun way.

The book and its companion coloring book teach literacy to children while they learn about health and life’s experiences. Marc did research for these books by reaching out to nurses and doctors, in order to provide children who read the books with a better understanding of what they are facing, and to not fear things that would most likely happen to them in a hospital setting. He created a cast of lovable characters for this professionally illustrated book and coloring book for kids to truly connect with, and respond to.

Marc followed up Peter the Peteeatrick Panda’s™ Playground with Special Person to Ride, a book for older kids and adults, that focuses on supporting and communicating with others facing a life’s challenge. This story about the amazing benefits of therapeutic horseback riding is based on Marc’s personal journey, sharing the method, the activity, and the positive results he achieved and experienced through learning the skills and successfully achieving in this special type of horseback riding.

In the Spring of 2010 Marc was an invited speaker at Emory University Medical School’s International Conference on Medical Volunteerism in Atlanta, GA. After his presentation, Dr. Neil Shulman, Associate Professor, Emory University Medical School and a partner company, Creative Solutions Inc. suggested several creative means through which Marc could support others by replicating his story. Thus the concept and ideas for Sanctuary Island Inc, were born, with its vision to service others facing adversity and special life challenges.