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Launching lanterns of hope for child victims of violence

The lanterns were launched from land as well as from boats afloat on Lake Wallenpaupack.


July 31, 2012

“Never underestimate the power of a mother,” said Lackawanna County assistant district attorney Eugene Talerico Jr. of April Loposky, as cheers erupted from a large crowd assembled at the Wallenpaupack Visitors Center during the first “Light the Night for Marley’s Mission” on July 29 in Hawley.

Loposky responded with gratitude for supporters of the non-profit organization she founded following a life-altering tragedy that occurred in 2009. Loposky’s five-year-old daughter, Kodee, was brutally assaulted and nearly killed by 40-year-old Felix E. Montoya, who attacked the child in her home in Taylor late at night on July 5. Montoya was captured by police and is serving a life sentence.

The devastation that ensued from the trauma led the family to key individuals as they slowly began to reclaim their lives and work toward healing. An important part of that process would ultimately involve horses. After limited success with traditional therapy, a horse was brought into Kodee’s therapy regimen, producing a recognizable change in the child.

Loposky realized that, if horses could have such a positive impact on her child, other young victims of abuse also might benefit from equine interaction. She researched the issue, then prepared a convincing presentation and began approaching potential partners, such as Talerico, who had prosecuted the case. Talerico never hesitated and now serves as president of the Marley’s Mission board.

Today, the non-profit organization, named after Kodee’s guinea pig, Marley, provides horse-based therapy free of charge to children and their families who have experienced trauma.

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) supports those who have experienced abuse and suffer with depression, anxiety and other symptoms. EAP also yields psychotherapeutic benefits, such as building confidence, improving communication, reducing anxiety and most importantly, restoring trust.

Treatment teams include trained trauma therapists and equine specialists educated in the internationally recognized EAP model developed by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. With the assistance of the treatment team, the child learns an alternative way of expressing his or her feelings through interaction with the horse.

During the “Light the Night” event, Loposky gave a presentation about Marley’s Mission, which now serves seven counties in Northeastern PA and, since July 6, 2010, has treated 150 children who are suffering from physical, verbal or sexual abuse; bullying; illness or death of a family member; medical trauma and more.