GHENT, N.Y (NEWS10) — A moment in the summer of 1985 changed Jodie O’Connell-Ponkos’ life forever. At 16 years old, she lost her right arm

“My parents said there was no option for giving up,” she said. “My dad’s like, ‘Look, we may be Irish, but we don’t have the luck of the Irish, so you have to push—this is your life.”

Horseback riding quickly became her source of healing. Her parents helped to ignite a drive throughout her childhood that’s only grown stronger over time. It was early on that she decided she wants to help others with physical limitations like herself.

In 2009, she started Destiny’s Ride to serve others who might benefit from the healing nature of horses. Located within Liberty Farms in Ghent, her work fuels her passion to help others.

Ten years later, she decided to go to school to help her riders even more. In 2019, she was accepted into Maria College’s occupational therapy assistant program. An education experience that has enriched the work she does with her riders at Destiny’s Ride

“I became a lifelong learner in my 50s, so I started decided this journey when I turned 50,” she said.

Jodie recently found out she made it into the master’s program at Maria College for occupational therapy. This fall she’ll continue her educational journey as a student.