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Cody & Chief: Cape teen’s dream of owning a horse is granted

By CJ HADDAD - | Oct 12, 2021

Cody shows off his custom-made sign. The horse was gifted to Luft by Make-A-Wish Southern Florida this past Sunday. PHOTO PROVIDED

The powerful and harmonious bond between human and animal was on full display Sunday in Cape Coral, as 15-year-old Cody Luft got acquainted with his new best friend, Chief.

Luft, a critically ill teen who has epilepsy and autism, arrived at the Cape Coral Boarding stables that morning to meet Chief — a beautiful horse given to him by Make-A-Wish Southern Florida.

Luft, who has a mini zoo (that includes 12 pets) at home, was thrilled to welcome Chief to his family. His mother Erica said her son loves animals because they don’t judge, and bring love and comfort to a youth who thrives as a caretaker.

“This is going to give him a best friend, and he’ll be able to come out here and just forget about everything that’s going on medically and what’s coming up down the pike for him and just be able to concentrate on him and the horse, and it’s just kind of like ‘free-spirited,'” she said.

Luft was surprised to find Chief waiting for him at the stables, but mom was ready and brought a friend-made sign, “Cody’s Chief,” that was bolted on the area where the horse will stay. Upon their first interaction, the teen softly reached out and stroked along the horse’s muzzle, and Chief showed an immediate response of positivity.

Cody Luft, a 15-year-old Cape Coral resident, takes his new horse Chief out for some riding. PHOTO PROVIDED

He was even able to saddle up for the first time as his owner, as the pair trotted around the property. Luft has ridden horses before and has no anxiety when in the saddle — a welcome change from his worries about an upcoming surgery.

“There’s nothing like a love for animals, and he just looks forward to taking care of all of his animals – from little, now to big,” said Erica with a smile.

Make-A-Wish also provided the Luft family six months of boarding, food, a saddle and transport carrier.

“The wishes we grant aren’t just nice, they’re necessary,” said Norman Wedderburn, president & CEO of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, in a statement.

“Research shows the anticipation of a wish and the memories made during them can have a positive and significant impact on the health and well-being of the children, families, and extended networks we reach.”

Make-A-Wish Southern Florida has granted more than 13,000 life-changing wishes since 1983 for children who have critical illnesses. It aims to grant a wish for every medically eligible child in its territory and understands wishes aren’t just nice, they’re necessary for kids and families at some of the most difficult times in their lives. Wish kids most often “wish to be” (something), “wish to meet” (someone), “wish to go” (somewhere), “wish to have” (something) or “wish to give” (to a cause) and the nonprofit organization makes this happen for the child and his/her entire family at no cost or obligation.

The Southern Florida chapter’s territory includes 22 counties/four regions in southwest and southeast Florida, the Tampa Bay area and on the Suncoast. It also includes the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj