■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
More than 100 children came to participate in T.H.E. Center’s Easter egg hunt, take a photo with the Easter Bunny, run sack and egg spoon races, decorate plastic eggs, play pin the tail on the bunny and commune with the horses on April 15. There were three separate egg hunts held in the equestrian ring: one for kids under age 3, one for kids ages 4 to 7, and one for older kiddos ages 8 to 12. And to make the event even more enjoyable, the Little Sisters, a junior offshoot program of the Valley Queen’s scholarship program, came to join in the fun and show the spectators what Little Sisters are all about.
Eliana, age 7, attends San Jacinto Valley Academy, and this is her first year with Little Sisters. One of her favorite things about participating in the program, she says, “is that I get to help others.” It’s not a bad deal that she also gets to wear a tiara that would make most Disney princesses explode in a fit of jealousy.
The Little Sisters program, says T.H.E. Center’s Executive Director Miguel Sarasa, is a non-competitive organization for girls ages 5 to 10. The girls participate with Valley Queens’ current titleholders throughout the year and assist with community service programs. The program is currently in its fifth year and is held in conjunction with the Miss Hemet Miss San Jacinto scholarship program. The Little Sisters program schedules an activity or event each month where the girls can spend time with their “big sister” titleholder, who provides mentoring and a positive influence, said Sarasa.
“It brings the younger girls out of their shell. They learn patience and people skills and they get involved with the community,” said Katie Simpson of Hemet. Simpson is Bristyls mother. “They develop friendships with other kids who are not necessarily at their own school or would be in their own social circles.”
After the last race was run, the last egg hunted, and the dust settled in the equestrian rings, it was apparent that everyone had a great time, and money was raised to keep T.H.E. Center running for its therapeutic riding program, which benefits autistic students and military veterans.