04/12/2011 2:46PM

Make-A-Wish, Northern California horsemen come through for teenage girl


Sierra Olson, the 14-year-old girl with the autoimmune disorder Evans syndrome who got to spend a day with trainer Terry Knight last month, had her Make-A-Wish dream fulfilled last week when she visited Pete and Evelyn Varella’s Legacy Ranch and got to witness a live equine birth.

Sierra, along with her parents, Darci and Dylan, brother Eli, and sister Annika, was at Legacy Ranch on April 2 and 3 but was disappointed that she did not get to see a birth, so the Varellas invited the family back at midweek, and she got to see one.

“We had two foals the night before she arrived, and she made us promise that she’d be the first one we’d call if we had a foal when she was there,” Evelyn Varella said.

When no foals were born, the Varellas made arrangements for the Olson family to return.

“After they got here, I took her down to see one of the foals that had been born the previous night,” said Pete Varella.“Normally, day-old foals are a little paranoid because they haven’t been handled much. I had one arm around the filly and one around the little girl, but the filly lifted her head up, and they were cheek-to-cheek.

“It was something to watch how they bonded together. It was something more powerful than we can explain. It brought tears to my eyes.”

The Varellas, who are Make-A-Wish supporters and have hosted other children at their ranch, were quite taken by the horse-loving Sierra, and Evelyn said they planned to name a horse after her.

Terry Knight’s daughter Shari said Sierra’s Make-A-Wish experience isn’t over yet.

“My dad gave her a horse to name, and she’s still working on it,” she said.