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Spanish Daily Journal
     May 14, 2020      #18-135 sdj

Masquerade the horse visits Good Shepherd

Masquerade el caballo visita Good Shepherd

BEAVERVILLE — Vickie Burnette’s family has a strong connection with the U.S. Armed Forces.

Because of that connection, Burnette found a way to help veterans and their families cope with the difficulties they face daily with the formation of American Tribe Equine Therapy in Beaverville, a nonprofit organization.

It provides hands-on equine therapy for veterans and active duty military personnel and their immediate families at no cost.

Burnette’s son, Casey Ross Moore, was an Army veteran. When he committed suicide 10 years ago, “my faith tanked,” Burnette said.

“I was walking around Beaverville a lot of nights crying,” she said. “One thing Beaverville is known for is this wonderful old, beautiful church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church. I was walking by and saw the statue of Mother Mary. I felt something. It was the beginning of the healing.”

Then in 2015, her husband, Wayne Lambert, died after an illness. Lambert had served eight years in the Navy.

During her journey through grief, Burnette — who has had horses for most of her life — went with a friend who was looking to buy a rescue horse in 2018.

It was there that she met the horse that’s still with her today, Masquerade.

There were “40 dirty old horses in the field,” she said. “Masquerade was not glamorous. She was covered in mud. I saw her and fell in love.”

Burnette and her friend both bought horses that day.

It was that same year that she married Brian Burnette and started her non-profit organization. With the help of a $1,000 donation from the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary in Watseka and grant money, Burnette is able to run the organization.

“I have a passion for veterans. This has been a big boost to my heart,” Burnette said.

Burnette has two more horses, Charlie Horse and Katie. They are the ones that veterans, active military personnel and their families ride during visits.

One of the places Burnette and the horses visit is the Prince Home of the Illinois Veterans Home in Manteno. The home is for homeless and disabled veterans. Like other long-term care facilities, the home has strict restrictions in place due to the coronavirus which don’t allow family and friends to visit.

In a talk two months ago with a cousin who works at a nursing facility in Hoopeston, Burnette heard how despondent residents were about no visitors being allowed.

“I was looking for a way to help,” she said. “Truly this is what happened: I was asleep one night and God whispered, ‘You can do this.’ He was reaching out to me.”

Beginning in April, Burnette reached out to facilities in Iroquois County for a way to brighten the residents’ day.

Burnette and Masquerade, ”the social butterfly who pokes her nose into everything,” have visited several facilities in Iroquois County. Last week, Good Shepherd Manor in Momence hosted the duo.

The facility’s public relations director, Jan Jackson, said it was a “big treat for the men and the staff.”

For Burnette, she is happy to provide a chance to bring a smile to a person unable to have contact with family.

“I am overwhelmed with joy to be able to do this,” she said.

The organization relies on donations and grants to operate, and the added visits are a recent expansion. For more information, send a message through the American Tribe Equine Therapy, Inc. Facebook page, email ATET_Illinois2018@yahoo.com or call 815-383-6181. Donations can also be sent to First Trust & Savings Bank, 120 E. Walnut St., P.O. Box 160, Watseka, IL 60970.

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