Newswise — MAHWAH, NJ – (August 21, 2020) – Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation and Pony Power Therapies joined forces for another year to support pediatric patients through the power of horses and nature. Young patients receiving care for serious and chronic illnesses at Hackensack Meridian Joseph M. Sanzari’s Children’s Hospital participated in therapeutic nature-based non-riding sessions funded in part by the Susan Zabransky Hughes Memorial Run.

In partnership with Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation, patients from Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital every year visit Pony Power’s expansive 13 acres of property in the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains. This year marks the 6th year of Pony Power Therapies’ collaboration with the Foundation and the Run for Sue Committee, which oversees the annual planning of the Susan Zabransky Memorial Run.

“Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation is pleased to work closely with the Run for Sue Committee every year to honor the memory of Susan Zabransky Hughes,” said Helen A. Cunning, north regional president and chief development officer, Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation. “We look forward to participating in the Susan Zabransky Hughes Memorial Run every spring and sending our youngest patients from Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital to Pony Power Therapies, a beloved organization that Sue was passionate about, for a day of healing, respite and excitement.”

“I am pleased that our pediatric patients and their siblings were able to visit Pony Power Therapies and experience a healing setting outside of the hospital again this year,” said Judy Aschner, M.D., clinical director of the Children’s Care Transformation Service, Hackensack Meridian Health and physician-in-chief of Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. “We are proud to partner with Pony Power Therapies and Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation every summer to bring this day of fun and wonder to our patients. ”

“Our patients always enjoy their time at Pony Power Therapies,” said Lee Russeth, senior child life specialist, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. “This unique experience offers a positive change of pace for our patients, and we are so grateful to Pony Power and Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation for making it possible.”

“We look forward to working with these families each summer,” said Dana Spett, MSW, founder and executive director of Pony Power Therapies. “Our goal is to help these families make lasting, happy memories here on the farm and provide respite from the rigors of treatment and procedures. Sue Zabransky was a volunteer here at Pony Power and became a valued board member. We are proud to be able to honor her memory in this way."

This year, Pony Power Therapies celebrates its 20th anniversary of providing unique recreational opportunities to children and adults with special needs, or those in need of extra support. Pony Power Therapies, a non-profit based in Mahwah, New Jersey, provides special needs and at-risk individuals an opportunity for therapeutic horse-riding, horse-grooming, and gardening.

About Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health
Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health provides the most comprehensive and highest level of quality care to young patients in the state of New Jersey. The children’s network is comprised of two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune – and a large network of pediatric subspecialists and pediatricians. Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health hospitals are the only two in New Jersey to be ranked among the top 50 in the nation for pediatric cancer care by U.S. News and World Report. Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital also ranks among the top 50 in the nation for pediatric neurology and neurosurgery. Visit more information about Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health.

About Pony Power Therapies Founded in 2000, Pony Power Therapies gives special needs and at-risk children and adults a unique opportunity to ride, care for and interact with horses. Its riding and non-riding activities enhance individuals’ physical, social and emotional well-being in a safe, nurturing farm environment. Pony Power offers recreational activities that help riders gain greater flexibility, balance and muscle strength, as well as explore and develop unique relationships with the horse, which can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem, and foster feelings of independence and pride. Pony Power instructors are either certified or in training to be certified by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International. For more information, please visit