A horse sanctuary was reduced to ashes in a California fire, but all 20 horses miraculously survived
via GoFundMe

The wildfires that have ravaged the west coast over the past two months have burned millions of acres, claimed over 30 lives, and forced thousands to live in evacuation shelters.

The fires have also caused unimaginable damage to the area's wildlife.

Critical populations of endangered species and native habitats may take years to recover.

"Some of these places we set aside may be fundamentally impacted by climate change and may not be able to come back," Amy Windrope, deputy director of Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife," said according to The New York Times. "That's just a reality."


Out of all the death and destruction comes a wonderful story out of Jamul, California, outside of San Diego.

Over twenty years ago, Patty Hyslop started the Hyslop Horse Haven to care for abused and neglected horses. Hyslop sufferers from multiple sclerosis and, at one point, was paralyzed, but she believes her love for horses has helped her condition improve.

The sanctuary also provides horseback riding lessons for children.

On September 5, as the Valley Fire raged through the area, forcing Hyslop to evacuate her ranch, leaving the horses behind.

"It was one of the scariest things that we've ever been through," Hyslop told FOX 5.

"When I saw those hundred-foot flames coming at us … I (thought I) was going to come back the next day to dead horses or severely burnt horses. And if they had died, I think I would've died with them. My heart would have just broken," she continued.

via GoFundMe

After the fire made its way through the area, Hyslop returned to her horse haven fearing the worst. But she was shocked to find that all 20 of her horses survived.

Hyslop belives the animals were saved by "horse angels."

Unfortunately, the stable didn't have such luck. The entire sanctuary was reduced to ash and debris. Eight sheds with thousands of dollars worth of medications, tack, and supplies were brunt to the ground. As was Hyslop's golf cart and trailers for the sanctuary's volunteers.

via Fox 5 San Diego

"My shed alone, there was probably $10,000 worth of tack and medications feed everything inside and it's just all gone," said Hope Gilces, Hyslop's niece.

The horses have been transferred to temporary facilities while Hyslop and her team work to get the sanctuary back into order. Even though her sanctuary has suffered a massive setback, she still vows to rescue even more horses, including those impacted by the blaze.

A GoFundMe campaign has been established to help rebuild the sanctuary.

"The ranch is going to be in need of feed, medicine, care equipment, and all items needed for riding lessons (saddles, blankets, tack, etc)," the campaign reads. "They will need to rebuild storage units and replace machinery that didn't survive the fire."

Let's hope Hyslop's horse angels come through again and help her get the funding she needs to continue her important work.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.