SPRINGVILLE – A realized dream for Lauralee Sibiga is turning into an opportunity for other people as LJ Grand Livery Stables debuts Make a Moment. The new venture gives people with illnesses a chance to spend time with the animals
“We obviously can’t make them forget what’s happening,” said Jay Andrews, who helps with the business. “But if we can help take their mind off it for a few hours … that’s what we’ll do.”
The duo got the idea for Make a Moment after hosting an “embrace the bald” photo shoot for Kasie Rockwell, who was diagnosed with leukemia. Andrews and Sibiga turned the farm into a haven for Rockwell, posting Believe signs on the property and using Sibiga’s draft horses as a unique addition to the photos. The two horses in the photos were the same ones who pulled the carriage holding Rockwell’s grandfather’s casket after he passed away from leukemia. The symbolism wasn’t lost on Sibiga and Andrews.
“We made it so huge for her,” Andrews said. “We just tried to raise her spirits.”
From there, the couple had the idea for Make a Moment. They hope to use the farm and the animals to bring joy and happiness to other people.
“We will come to them, they can come to us,” Sibiga said. “We just want to give them a happy day.”
Although Make a Moment is still in the early stages of getting off the ground, Andrews and Sibiga are no stranger to using their livelihood as a way to bring smiles to other people’s faces. Since purchasing the Main Street property in 2012, they have hosted countless photoshoots, pulled brides on their wedding days and used the carriage for a variety of community events.
“We started the landscaping as soon as we moved in,” Andrews said. “There was one flower on the property … growing in the sidewalk.”
As they beautified the property, they received a phone call asking if a student could take prom photos on the farm.
“I was so honored when we got asked,” Sibiga said. “We just liked the farm and wanted to landscape it. It was such an honor so we went above and beyond.”
In May 2015, Andrews and Sibiga had a request for wedding photos from Amanda and Ryan McKerrow. At the time, Sibiga didn’t owned the horses, but Andrews bought the McKerrows a carriage ride from then-owner Dick Clark. It was at that wedding, though, that Sibiga fell in love with driving the carriage and the horses.
“[Clark] pulled me aside and said he was looking to sell the business and the horses,” Andrews recalled. “I knew [Sibiga] had fallen in love, so she bought them.”
Sibiga took an apprenticeship with Clark where she learned how to drive the carriage and take care of the horses. Since then, she has purchased four more horses and the longhorn Anthony.
Having learned how to drive the carriage, Sibiga and Andrews have since been involved with KidVenture – playing in the Wild West during their time machine skit, hosted cowboy and cowgirl parties, carted Marion Ahles through town on her 100th birthday – topped with a tiara, of course and pulled Alyssa Hearn during her funeral procession last year.
During last year’s Very Merry Main Street event, Sibiga and Andrews dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus while giving carriage rides. Each donation went to Hearn’s brother, Kyle, to help him start a savings account. They raised $517. The duo also bought gifts to hand out to children during Very Merry Main Street, but had enough left over to head out on Christmas Day to hand deliver presents, as Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“There was a young girl … jumping up and down yelling ‘Santa, Santa!’ when she saw us coming,” Andrews remembered. “I got down … she looked right in my eyes and said ‘It really is you!’. That makes all the hard work worth it.”
They’re reprising their role again this year, bringing gifts to both children in the Springville area and the Homeless Shelter of Buffalo. Sibiga and Andrews will be giving holiday rides Saturday, Nov. 25 beginning at noon. An unwrapped gift, toy, hats and gloves or a monetary donation will get you a ride. Unwrapped gifts to be delivered on Christmas can also be dropped off at Root 39, Emerling Ford, Main Street Pizza and Tops.
“It’s amazing to be able to do this,” Sibiga said. “To see their faces light up … it’s wonderful.”
And while Sibiga has future plans for the farm, she’s focused on Make a Moment for now. Those who would like to be considered for the venture are encouraged to contact LJ Grand Livery Stables on Facebook or call Sibiga at 359-2227.