Rosie Alty has always loved horses, which makes it easy to understand her excitement for her planned visit to Anheuser-Busch’s Warm Springs Ranch where she would get to see the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales, including the youngest foals.
But just days before the planned trip in June with her sister, Denise Schnable, and their aunt, Ginny Flenniken, Rosie had to cancel. She is battling glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. She was feeling very weak and made the decision to head home to begin hospice care.
Ginny called Warm Springs Ranch to cancel their tour. The ranch operators responded by sending Rosie a box of souvenirs along with an open invitation to tour the facility if she ever felt up to making the two-and-a-half-hour drive to the ranch in Boonville, Mo.
“We knew how disappointed she was to cancel that trip,” said Pat Thibodeau, Rosie’s social worker with Mercy Hospice. “We let her family know, if she ever felt up to it, we would make this trip happen.”
Rosie’s family wasn’t so sure. She needed to use a wheelchair to get around and she wasn’t able to speak. But some of her strength returned, allowing her to regain some of her speech and stand with assistance. They decided the time was right; Rosie was ready to visit those Clydesdales.
“We called Pat and told her we need to make this happen,” said Rosie’s sister, Denise. “Aunt Ginny called Warm Springs Ranch and set the date, and Pat took charge of working with Mercy to provide us with a wheelchair accessible van and a driver.”
When Rosie’s family realized the trip was really going to happen, they joined in. Rosie’s husband, Doug, their daughter, Nikki, son, Chris, and granddaughter, Audrey; Rosie’s brother, Dave, and step-mother, Donna, all rearranged their schedules on short notice to join Rosie, Denise and Ginny on the trip. Brittany Goetz, Mercy CNA, joined the family as well.
“It was very emotional starting with the tears of joy when we arrived at the ranch,” said Brittany. “Everyone was so excited that we were able to make it there and provide this experience for Rosie.”
“Warm Springs provided such an incredible tour for us,” Denise said. “Our tour guide, Shani Adair, treated us like family for the almost 90-minute private tour she gave us.”
The first horse Rosie met was Gloria, a filly named in honor of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup championship. Gloria was born just moments after the team won game seven of the NHL final, and not only that, she was born on Rosie and Doug’s 37th wedding anniversary.
Rosie met several foals during her tour and got the chance to pet many of them. She spent time in the lobby with Stan, a Clydesdale named for St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial. She watched a horse receive a new shoe. And Shani presented Rosie with a shoe worn by one of the Clydesdales while pulling a wagon.
“When Rosie received that horseshoe, we saw the tears of joy again. The entire visit was so therapeutic, not just for Rosie but for all of us. And Warm Springs did this all for free for us. We can’t thank them enough,” Denise said.