Irish tenor Mark Forrest and his wife, Muriel, began the Faith & Family Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization in 1999 to help families just like theirs. The parents of eight boys - one who passed away as a baby - three of whom have profound disabilities - Mark and Muriel know only too well the challenges of raising children with serious illness. Working to create a balanced home life for their special needs boys, and their very active, typically developing ones, Mark and Muriel realized that programs and services for families like theirs were few and far between.
Providing excellent quality, much-needed services in a warm, loving, family-centered environment is what Mark and Muriel Forrest work to do every day at their Wheatland Farm in Purcellville, Virginia. Wheatland Farm is a USEF / USPEA Para-dressage Center of Excellence -- just the fourth such center to have been so named nationwide. Wheatland is also a fully inclusive traditional English riding program; provides adaptive and traditional aquatics, a wheelchair lending program and fun outdoor activities. All programs are designed to include siblings and typically developing children in an all-inclusive environment, and are provided by The Faith & Family Foundation at Wheatland Farm throughout the year.
Through his national and global travels as an Irish tenor, Mark works to raise awareness of disability at his concerts and appearances and provides hope and encouragement to families and individuals facing similar challenges. Muriel speaks locally and nationally on issues related to family life and disability, and teaches as a USEF Silver Level Para Dressage Coach at the Equestrian Center at Wheatland Farm. The Forrest’s seven boys volunteer at the farm’s programs and provide encouragement to siblings of Wheatland Farm students, many of whom deal with the same challenges .