Following a two-week disruption, families flocked back to Parkwood Farms, a therapeutic riding center in Snellville, on Tuesday afternoon, following the threat of imminent eviction just a few short weeks ago.
Owner Marilyn Peterson issued a plea for help from the community, many of whom rallied around her in the coming days.
Peterson said that she received a predatory loan in 2004. When she refinanced it in 2011, she was told that the terms would be good for "the life of the loan."
"What they didn't tell me was that the 'life of the loan' was only two years," she said.
Following a rally, candlelight vigil and dozens of phone calls and negotiations, the mortgage company has now agreed to negotiate the terms of her loan, although the final outcome is still uncertain.
"This is even better than the first day we opened," said Peterson of the re-opening. Her own son, who is autistic, is back in the saddle as well. "It's more exciting because we've been doing this so long that something has been missing out of lives and now it's back. The kids are so happy, and the horses are happy."
Brandon Yeargin, 5, was one of the students riding at the farm on Tuesday. He has been riding since the end of July and looks forward to it every single week.
"He's always excited to come over here," said his father, Sunnil.
Brandon struggles with speech and socialization, a common theme among children with autism. Hippotherapy -- therapy that involves horses -- has had a profound impact on students at Parkwood Farms, particularly in the area of speech development.
Brandon now talks nonstop, according to his father, something he believes the farm had a lot to do with.
For further reading:
- Candlelight Vigil at Parkwood Farms
- Greatest Person of the Day: Marilyn Peterson
- Parkwood Farms Faces Imminent Eviction