'It was a miracle:' Raleigh's Horses for Hope helped woman walk again after she was hit by drunk driver

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- At one point in her life, Carmalee Scarpitti was unable to walk, but you wouldn't know that by looking at her.

Nearly two decades ago, a drunk driver hit her, leaving her nearly paralyzed.

Scarpitti said she struggled to walk short distances and often had to use a wheelchair.

Eventually, the immense pain became too much to handle.

"I was ready to consider voluntary amputation because I was in so much pain."

But then something changed. In the spring of 2010, after years of physical therapy and little improvement, Scarpitti said her physical therapist recommended horseback riding as a form of physical therapy.

Scarpitti applied to Horses for Hope and enrolled its therapeutic riding program.

Within six weeks, she saw improvement than she had not seen in seven years.

"It was a miracle. There's nothing you can call that except a miracle."

Gwen Roberts founded the non-profit after seeing her mother struggle with multiple sclerosis.

Roberts said she keeps the prices as low as she can, knowing the struggle many families with disabilities face.

Horses for Hope even offers free options in exchange for a few hours of help around the nearly 35-acre farm.

Currently, the non-profit is providing services to 130 people, both kids and adults. Another 200 are on a waiting list.

Scarpitti believes her success comes from the motion that riding horses utilizes muscles in the same fashion that walking does.

For Roberts, she gives credit for any success to God.

"To me, it's kind of unexplainable," Roberts said. "It's something that God does, these animals ... there's something about them."

Horses for Hope helps offset costs by offering riding lessons to able-bodied persons.

Right now, the group desperately needs monetary donations and volunteers who can meet a variety of needs: from scooping stalls to working on excel spreadsheets.
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