Yes, Mariah, There Is a Santa Claus

December 10, 2008

Visit With Santa (McGuire VAMC, 12/10/08)

Visit With Santa (McGuire VAMC, 12/10/08)

Santa Claus came by last night and gave Mariah a big bag of goodies. She’s not shy, so she also asked for a pony. He must have said “ok” because today she spent her last full day at McGuire in the Virginia countryside horseback riding.

It was a long drive for a half dozen of us to the Lonesome Dove Equestrian Center in Powhatan, Virgina, and it was worth it. Owner Cliff Arrington and a bevy of local volunteers greeted us at the rustic and cozy lodge where they served us a delicious lunch and regaled us with hilarious stories. Then we met the horses and got ready to ride.

The Lonesome Dove is a charitable nonprofit that offers therapeutic riding to veterans with special needs at no charge. It relies completely on donations and is run by unpaid volunteers. Find out more about the Center and how you can help by visiting their website at

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the big move from Richmond to Washington. Many wonderful people who have spent hundreds of hours working with and caring for Mariah have been stopping in to say farewell to her, often with a tear in their eye. Captain Kochavi is evidently a much loved and admired young woman whose presence in the Polytrauma Unit will be missed.

To all the hardworking angels – nurses, therapists, social workers, psychologists, doctors, staff, and volunteers – at McGuire and Fisher House, I cannot possibly express the depth of my gratitude for all you’ve done for Mariah and our family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You, along with Mariah and Clay, are my heros. I thank God for you, and pray that God blesses you.

– Mark

Warming Up (Lonesome Dove Equestrian Center, Powhatan, Virginia, 12/10/08)

Trotting (Lonesome Dove Equestrian Center, Powhatan, Virginia, 12/10/08)

Barrel Race (Lonesome Dove Equestrian Center, Powhatan, Virginia, 12/10/08)


3 Responses to “Yes, Mariah, There Is a Santa Claus”

  1. Janet King Daw said

    Mariah, It looks like you were having a great time! Kayaking and now horseback riding. I want to print the pictures of you with Santa and you in the kayak. Great pictures. We will pray for a smooth transition for you today.

    Your cousin,
    Janet King Daw

  2. Ouida Gartman said


    I am Lt.Col. Chessley Atchison’s sister. I live close to Wichita Falls, Texas.

    He has apprised me of your situation ever since the incident and your journey started. As he has followed your progress your good days were his good days, and your less than good affected him the same. I know, because he would call me when he was coming to see you or after he had left.

    He has asked for prayers for you and I can see from these videos that the many prayers sent on your behalf from your family and friends are and have been answered.

    I know that you have many, many friends and that you are a very strong courageous woman. You can draw strength each day knowing that your friends are all still pulling for you.

    I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and continued growth and strength for you for a very blessed new year!

    Ouida Gartman

    P. S. If you want to give my brother a hard time, we were given very southern names. Mine is Ouida Joyce and his is Chessley Royce!!!!!!
    “Catchy” isn’t it????

  3. Leah said

    I don’t think I could ride any better myself. Mariah’s balance and strength are amazing, as always. I hope the move the DC was smoothe and look forward to seeing you all.


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