A 13-year-old Hinsdale girl who was adopted from China and has dealt with various health conditions hopes to be on the Hanson Center equestrian team when it competes in the Special Olympics this fall.
The events, equestrian pattern and trail class will showcase the skills Tabitha Moran has learned since she started horseback riding at the Burr Ridge riding arena in October.
“In the trail class event, the riders will go through a series of obstacles, such as around poles, over a bridge and through a gate,” said Cathy LeBeau, an equestrian administrator at the Hanson Center. “It can be quite difficult.”
But LeBeau said Tabitha is focused on what she is doing. Though she is petite, size does not matter, LeBeau said.
“We have different size horses with different personalities,” she said.
When Tabitha’s parents adopted her in 2006, they did not know she had a condition called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, a disorder caused by the deletion of a small piece of chromosome 22.
The symptoms and effects, which can include heart defects, learning disabilities, hearing loss and cleft palate, involve different parts of the body and vary in severity.
The Morans, who had three other children, adopted Tabitha when she was 11 months old, and recognized she was developing slowly. She was very small and could not sit up by herself or roll over.
They returned from China Dec. 11, and two weeks later Tabitha had surgery to fix three hernias.
The Morans enrolled their youngest daughter in Illinois’ early intervention program, which included physical and occupational therapists and other specialists.
“She didn’t walk until she was 18 or 19 months old,” her mother, Jacquie Moran, said.
Tabitha wears hearing aids due to holes in her eardrums, but “she has this fighting spirit,” her mother said.
“I think God works in a way that makes sense,” Moran said.
She was not fazed by the issues that arose with Tabitha, she said, because she already had three children, some of whom had medical problems at birth.
“It was hard, don’t get me wrong,” Moran said.
But she thinks parents with no children would have had a harder time handling Tabitha’s health complications.
The Morans went to Changsha in Hunan Province with 10 other families, who also were adopting Chinese girls. The girls have stayed friends through social media and getting together at least once a year. Some live as close as Naperville. Others live out of state, in Iowa and Alabama.
Tabitha, who will be an eighth grader at Clarendon Hills Middle School, plays percussion in the band.
“I wanted to play trumpet, but my hand was too small,” Tabitha said.
She also enjoys swimming, particularly in a mermaid’s tail.
Tabitha, a fan of the Mako Mermaids television series, saw videos of real girls swimming with mermaid tails on the Internet and was hooked. Her mother bought her a fabric tail with an elastic waist and a removable rubber fin in the bottom.
Tabitha often shares her mermaid tails with girls she meets at the pool, who have never seen one.
The first lesson Tabitha gives to a new mermaid is a safety lesson on how to take off the tail underwater, her mother said.
The company Fin Fun invites girls to apply to be on its MerCouncil. Tabitha was chosen based on an application and video her mother submitted.
This summer, Tabitha hopes to be selected a mermaid ambassador for girls 13 and older, mainly because she could win free fins and other gifts. The ambassadors represent and promote Fin Fun at community events and on social media.
Her 21-year-old sister, Cecelia, and her brother Luke, a senior at Hinsdale Central High School, helped her make a video with music her brother composed and underwater filming with her mother’s iPhone.
Tabitha directed the scene where she dives in the lake with her bare legs which, through editing, seem to transform into a mermaid’s tale below the water.
To see Tabith’s video, go to www.finfriends.com/2019-ambassador-finalists/ and look under the under the Midwest/South region.