If you recall, the final step that you support in our Pathway to Resilience program is called “Kids Give Back.”
It is here where kids practice the leadership skills they’ve learned.
We recently held a special ceremony for four kids who are not only graduating from high school but also officially from Hope Reins—preparing to embark on a life of their own thanks to your gifts.
I’d like to share a little about Thomas, one of these amazing kids you’ve supported for so long.
When Thomas first enrolled at Hope Reins, he was a completely withdrawn 10-year-old boy who grappled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
A year earlier, he’d attempted suicide. After hospitalization and short-term residential care his family welcomed him home—but with great trepidation.
“We needed a safety net,” says Kathleen, Thomas’ mom. “And Hope Reins became our rock-solid refuge that gave us our son back,” she says tearfully.
During his first year at Hope Reins, Thomas isolated himself, talking to only his mentor, Heather, while devoting his time to caring for several horses he’d grown to love.
Thomas would soak his own feet for hours alongside Shiloh, whose hooves needed to be immersed daily in water and Epsom salt to alleviate painful inflammation from laminitis.
Thomas was crushed when he had to say goodbye to Hope Reins’ Belgian Draft, Mercy, who had to be euthanized due to disintegrated coffin bones in her hind legs. But, as his mom says, “He learned he can’t fix everything.”
The more time Thomas spent at Hope Reins, the less Kathleen saw his anxious side. “His doctors, teachers, everyone—they all recognize the importance of Hope Reins for his mental health,” she says.
And, by summer camp the following year, Thomas was leading prayer groups and forming friendships with other kids at the ranch.
Today, the withdrawn little boy is a strapping six-foot-tall 18-year-old. When he spoke at the graduation ceremony he encouraging all of the current “Kids Give Back” members, assuring them that they would heal, just like him. “I did it. So can you,” says Thomas.
His passion is animal welfare, and Thomas recently applied for a job at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, where he and his family are moving.
“We could pay for his therapist and hospitalizations,” says Kathleen. “But never could we have ever afforded the mentor, the horse, the sessions, everything at Hope Reins that forged together to help our son heal. We could never, ever put a price on it because it’s priceless.”
Enjoy the sunshine this weekend! And know that your generosity is changing the world for the better— one kid at a time!
Founder & CEO