A sweet moment between Sage and her pony.

Sage Ouradnik turned 3 years old on March 24, 2014. What should have been a fun birthday weekend at the family’s Amidon, N.D., farm took an unimaginable turn. Sage’s mom, Kelley, noticed Sage wasn’t as active as normal, but she didn’t think much of it, assuming the weekend’s birthday festivities and that morning’s horseback ride had worn out the normally rambunctious child. The next day, though, the Ouradnik’s future changed drastically when Sage was rushed to the hospital for a blood transfusion. At 3 years and 2 days old, she was diagnosed with B-Lymphoblactic Leukemia or B-ALL.

Within days, Sage began chemotherapy treatment at the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo, N.D. The road to beating cancer wasn’t easy. The family of five was separated for many weeks as Kelley and Sage stayed in Fargo for treatment while Scott and sons Cutter and Jett held down the fort at home.

The days slowly dragged by, and Sage progressed through her first month of treatment. Near the 30-day mark, and for the first time since her diagnosis, it began to look like she could go home. Although it was incredible news, this was just the beginning of a long and difficult journey.

Sage’s family and friends always refer to her as a “fighter” and “spunky,” and it’s true. Look at the pictures of Sage during her treatment. The sparkle and light in her eyes jump off the screen. Her family attributes much of her good spirits to her animals. You see, Sage loves animals, especially horses. The family’s horse herd provided special encouragement and comfort to Sage as she fought her way through leukemia.

Horse hugs are the best kind of hugs.

“She is such an inspiration to me,” says Codi Miller, Sage’s Aunt. “I thank God every day for her being able to live on the farm—each time she was able to come home from the hospital, the horse pen was the first place she wanted to go.”

On August 12, 2016, after a two-year battle filled with hospital visits, chemo treatments, tears, and victories, Sage rang the the bell for being cancer free. Today, Sage is in school and working on her letters. She’s also rocking her post chemo checkups.

“I have this saying framed in our house,” says Kelley. It reads, “‘Pay it forward. It’s about caring and sharing. It’s about compassion and kindness it’s about generosity. It’s about sacrifice and love. You get what you give so give good.’ We will be paying it forward for the rest of our lives and are so happy to do it.”

Sage riding her pony on the wide-open plains of North Dakota.

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