When Karleen bought her small country home in Castleton, Vermont, it seemed large enough for herself, her twin sons and Betty, an adult foster person with cerebral palsy. But life changed dramatically in 1996 when Karleen married Arnie Ponto, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Suddenly, the family needed much more space. A friend at Vermont Center for Independent Living suggested the Pontos go to Opportunities for a loan for home modifications. The family grew again when Karleen and Arnie adopted their “Angel.” Angel, now 5, has spina bifida, but does not let that interfere with her passion for horses. They now have nine miniature horses and Shetland ponies that they train for others with disabilities to enjoy. They also share their farm with chickens, goats, five dogs, three cats, a rabbit and a turkey.
Using an Omega Trac wheelchair that can tow a wagon with 1,000 pounds of manure, Arnie lives a full and independent life, sharing in all the farm work. Opportunities came to his aid again in 2004 with a loan for expensive wheelchair repairs.
“Without this wheelchair, the quality of my life is vastly reduced. It’s the difference of living a full life and fulfilling your dreams or watching other people live theirs.” – Arnie