That "Mercedes" is actually a horse... fulfilling a wish made by Sarah Hoff six months ago. Tuesday, Hoff arrived for what was supposed to be a regularly scheduled riding lesson that just so happened to be on her birthday. When she walked up and a small group of family and friends started singing "Happy Birthday," Hoff realized her wish had been granted.
Hoff was diagnosed with an auto immune disorder when she was a baby. After learning she'd been granted a wish through the Make a Wish Foundation, she immediately chose a horse as her wish. "I like it because I like animals," said Hoff.
Sarah is a shy 12-year-old... but on Mercedes, her dad says she's a different child. "She's beautiful on a horse. They're like one. She's very natural... she comes into her own," said Tim Hoff.
Sarah and Mercedes actually met each other a few months back when Sarah started taking riding lessons at Easy Does It Farms in Madera Ranchos. It turns out Mercedes' previous owner had decided to sell her and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. "This was challenge to find the perfect wish for the perfect girl. And that's what took some time. And it's a good fit," said Kelly Roehl, a volunteer with the Make a Wish Foundation.
Sarah's family members and friends were there for Tuesday's birthday lesson. Even though Sarah knew she would have her wish granted soon, her parents say there was still an element of surprise. "I think she hoped but was afraid to hope as much as this last week. She met the previous owner of Mercedes last week and said, 'I hope she's not coming to take her away!'" said Sarah's mother, Jannita Hoff.
Now, the pair will have plenty of time to make memories together. At only 12-years-old, Sarah has a Mercedes to call her own.