EquestrianSingles.com's Community Affects Lives One Member at a Time
Originally published on Horsecity.com Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Housebound member leaves home through online service.
If you think Equestriansingles.com is just another dating site, think again. When Teresa Lonadier, aka Dakota123, discovered EquestrianSingles.com in 2002, her world changed. Born with half a heart- only 2 chambers- and not expected to live past her teens, Teresa remained housebound, and became a regular in the EquestrianSingles.com chat rooms. She was soon embraced by members who fondly referred to her as "Little Sis," and the website became the center of her social life.
In 2004, Teresa's parents drove her to an EquestrianSingles.com gathering to meet her new friends in person. A huge rodeo fan, Teresa was overjoyed when PBR bull fighter, Brian Payne, asked her to dance. She had a smile on her face the size of Texas. After the dance, her eyes filled with tears, as she told Byran it was the first time a boy had ever asked her to dance. When he gave her a kiss on the cheek, she was on cloud 9.
Teresa was admitted to the hospital in June 2007 for heart surgery. Her friends from the site remained in contact, sending thoughts and prayers through phone calls and posts on the website's message board. The surgery was complicated and sadly, Teresa's heart eventually gave out. She passed away on June 8th,2007, at the age of 28. Members of EquestrianSingles.com's community were devastated, and expressed their grief through hundreds of posts on the website's message board. It was how many lives this isolated housebound girl had touched.
Teresa's aunt, Pam Rashid, wrote to EquestrianSingles.com, saying, "I don't believe that many people could understand just how much EquestrianSingles.com meant to Teresa. She had no siblings, rarely left her home, and her friends on this website were her whole world. Perhaps the appeal of EquestrianSingles.com was her ability to get online and speak to friends whether in Texas, California, Montana, or Canada, allowing her to 'leave' home for the time she was online."
Though EquestrianSingles.com boasts over 1000+ marriages, some of the biggest success stories come from stories like Teresa's, whose lives have been drastically changed. Marcia Zwilling, President/Founder of EquestrianSingles,com said, "When we launched the website in 2001, we envisioned an online community. Hearing stories like Teresa's confirms the site has exceeded our expectations." Jan Mirkin, CEO/Founder of EquestrianSingles.com agrees, "knowing the community we created has helped so many people, truly is special."
Teresa had also dreamed of becoming a stock contractor and befriended, Roy Carter, from Roy Carter's Bucking Bulls. Roy took the time to visit her in the hospital before her operation. The beautiful t-shirt her brought her was draped on Teresa's coffin at her funeral. After her passing, Roy named one of his bucking bulls after her, called Dakota's Dream. She may never have been a stock contractor but thanks to Roy Carter she will have her bull in the PBR!
Like Roy, EquestrianSingles.com wanted to do something special for Teresa. Realizing, like any community, people grieve for their loved ones, EquestrianSingles.com recently developed a tribute page for members of their community who have passed on over the years. They also named a chat room in Teresa's honor, called Dakota's.