LAKE REGION - At the Pocono Lake Region, Chamber of Commerce’s dinner, April 25, a range of the area’s business representatives were present to enjoy an evening of fine food and making new connections as business cards were readily exchanged.

Gianni Iona, a 14 year old student at Wallenpaupack Area High School, was presented with a certificate of acknowledgment, for being the organization’s youngest business owner in its 87 year existence. Iona started his first business, selling animal balloons when he was nine. Today, he has established Gianni Boy Enterprises where he provides entertainment services, computer assistance and photography.

On a more serious note though, following Iona’s recognition, April Loposky spoke of what changed her family’s life on a July night in 2009, where her five year old daughter was brutally attacked in her room. After the attack, Loposky noticed that only one thing was helping her child heal. Through interaction with horses, her daughter started to come alive again. Because of the support Loposky received and how inspired she was by the affect that the animals had on her daughter, with the help and support from family and friends, Loposky founded Marley’s Mission. To date, the organization has helped over 200 children since it started four years ago through the inclusion of horses in the healing process for children who have experienced any form of trauma.

The former Assistant District Attorney of Lackawanna County, and a prosecutor for over 20 years, Gene Talerico is the president of Marley’s Mission and he said through Marley’s Mission, he has gotten, "a better understanding of the reality of hope."

Prior to the attack, Loposky said she lived in a "bubble gum world," where her kids and family were all that mattered. Today, she said, her daughter keeps everyone motived and "everything hoping at the mission." The kids who visit Marley’s Mission, do so, free of charge, Loposky said because of the generosity from others who helped her family through their challenging time. But at the dinner, Loposky and Talerico were there not only to educate people about Marley’s Mission, but to also acknowledge that the organization survives on a limited amount of grants, fundraisers and the support from the general population. Children at Marley’s Mission receive, 100 percent, solution based therapy where they don’t ride the horses, but rather, partake in play therapy. Loposky explained that, the kids learn real life solutions so when they go into the real world they will be armed, with tools that will help them overcome whatever goes on in their lives.

With plans to expand Marley’s Mission, 32 acres in Newton Township has been purchased. Dirt will start to fly soon, and construction is planned to begin May 4. Loposky said 18 people will work 15 hour shifts, so the new facility will be opened by July 5 because that is the organization’s third anniversary. Talerico said he is, "immensely proud of the mission of the mission," along with Loposky and her continuous ideas. He said, that Loposky’s generosity and giving of herself, by telling her story so others can understand is special.

Acknowledging what Loposky and Talerico are doing, the president of the chamber, Jim Shook said he is a, "true believer, that we’re all put on this earth for a reason." He explained that, sometimes people find their goals and professions by accident or through traumatic experiences, which is the case for Loposky.

For information about Marley’s Mission, visit call (570)937-9399.The membership dinner was held at Ehrhardt's Waterfront Banquet Center.

For information on the Pocono Lake Region Chamber of Commerce visit online at or call (570)226-3191.