Mia's Story

Love, hope, and a little bit of friendly betting

Clear back in 2003, Penny and Jack TerHar were approached by Joan Slaughter at The Morgan Adams Foundation to see if they’d like to bring some of their cars to the brand new Morgan Adams Concours d‘Elegance event.

“We didn’t know much about The Morgan Adams Foundation at the time,” said Jack. “But the people were nice and the event was for a great cause and so we decided to get involved.”

“We thought the event was especially good to get involved with because you could see exactly where the funds raised were going,” added Penny. “We recognized that the group of doctors the Foundation was funding had a real chance of helping find a cure or make treatments so much better for kids with brain cancer.”

Never in their wildest dreams did they think that just a few short years later one of those “kids with brain cancer” would be their very own precious granddaughter, Mia.

“When Mia was diagnosed, the first thing we did was call Joan and ask her who the best doctors would be to help us,” Jack said. “Ironically, the very group of doctors and researchers who were benefiting from our donations to Concours were the ones working so hard to find a cure for the kind of cancer Mia had.”

Mia was just 7 years old when she was diagnosed with a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) and she passed away less than a year later at the age of 8. “She went from being a healthy, happy little girl to having very minor symptoms like not being able to hold her violin or tie her shoes well, to finding out she had this incurable cancer with less than a year to live,” Jack remembers.

As devastating as losing Mia was, Jack and Penny wanted to honor the remarkable, joyful, fun-loving little girl they loved. And they also wanted to continue to help raise money for The Morgan Adams Foundation. Jack and Penny held the first Sill-TerHar Kentucky Derby Party in 2015.

“Mia fell in love with horses as a toddler and that’s all she talked about,” said Penny. “Instead of walking or skipping, Mia always galloped. If you were in the same room, she’d want to race you so you had to gallop, too!”

“She begged her mom to learn to ride a horse,” recalled Jack. They found a trainer who agreed to let this pint-sized girl take some lessons and Mia was hooked. “Her horse’s name was Dot,” Jack said. “And she had the real Dot from her riding lessons and toy Dot she took with her everywhere she went. She talked to Dot at all times – the real one and the toy one.”

Penny added that Mia competed in her first dressage at the age of 5 – the only person in her category since she was so young. She was never scared of horses and they were truly her first love.

“We just knew that the way to remember Mia was with a big party and a horse race,” said Jack. “She would have loved both of those things.”

“Mia loved parties,” Penny said. “She would have been galloping all around this event and making people smile.”