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Kentucky non-profit makes big impact, with help from TWH community



By Emily Robertson
Special to the WHR

When the late Betty Turner Campbell lost her son after a 17-year battle to cancer, Campbell knew she wanted to create a place for children of all different abilities and conditions to go to for fun and respite. She dreamt of building a medical camp on her father’s 168 acre farm, in her hometown of Scottsville, Kentucky. 

In 2004, that dream came true when she founded The Center for Courageous Kids (CCK) and in true form, a few individuals from the walking horse community have played their part in ensuring the organization reached its potential for success. Since its beginning, CCK has served more than 33,000 children and their families from 45 different states and 12 foreign countries.

“The Center for Courageous Kids thrives on knowing that we can say yes more than we say no to our campers,” said Jordan Steakin, Communications Officer at CCK. “We want children of all abilities to know that they can do whatever they set their minds to, without being limited by their physical, cognitive or verbal condition.”

Part of the program includes horseback riding and the Kenny Reynolds family, who is involved in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, has been there with willing hearts to step up and offer their facilities for this portion of the program. Many in the industry will recognize Drake Reynolds, who shows She’s The Black Widow — they’re contenders for the Youth 12-17 World Grand Championship. Additionally, another family connected to the breed for many years have also offered their support by offering their events venue, a former horse farm, for one of CCK’s most lucrative annual fundraisers. Betty Mosley of Highland Stables has a heart for the breed and a heart for service and she was grateful to have done her part in this important mission.

“The CCK program has done extraordinary things for children with all types of needs and it’s no surprise to me that folks within the walking horse business have stepped up to do what they can,” said Leigh Ann Stuart, a walking horse trainer from Bowling Green, Kentucky. “It’s an organization that has made a big difference and I’d love for more people to learn about it in the horse community at large. Walking horse people are always generous with their contributions and this organization is definitely one that would benefit from anyone’s support.”

Steakin said that a major misconception that many people have about CCK is that it only serves children with serious or terminal illnesses. In reality, CCK serves children who struggle with more than 100 different diagnoses.

“Our application process and the Admissions Department ensure that each applicant is a great fit for camp,” Steakin said. “Each potential camper application is carefully evaluated, so we can be certain that we can provide the necessities to give a medically-safe, fun experience for each child.”

To combat the idea that camp is only for a select few, the organization is working to ensure that more people understand the variety of illness CCK is able to accommodate. Campers who come to CCK participate in a wide-range of experiences. In addition to the riding aspect — thanks to the Reynolds’ offering up their therapeutic riding facility —campers have the opportunity to experience boating, fishing, archery, music and art therapies, bowling, and rock climbing. 

This year, the center will be opening a brand new program area with a fully-accessible tree house called The Adventure Lodge. The Adventure Lodge has an entrance eight feet off the ground and overlooks a creek below. Several different types of programs will take place inside the tree house. 

“Our fully trained staff is able to facilitate and adapt every program area to fit each individual camper’s needs,” Steakin said. “More than 3,000 children and families annually participate at CCK, free-of-charge.” Because of the large number of campers and families, staff and volunteers are essential to The Center for Courageous Kids’ success. Currently, the center has 35 staff members who work year-round and there are more than 850 volunteers who serve annually. CCK is always looking for more people who want to help support CCK, whether that be for the day, the weekend, or a medical or corporate volunteer group. 

“We look for individuals willing to devote their undivided attention to courageous campers who deserve the very best,” Steakin said. “If a person can fill out an application, disconnect and dive into camp, they will learn so much more from these children than anywhere else. We promise that a volunteer’s experience will be just as valuable as the camper’s experience.”

Another way to be involved with CCK is through various fundraising events throughout the year. The center is made possible because of donations from individuals, corporations and grants.  Several events take place each year to help fund CCK,  including CCK 6K and Backwards Mile, which was held for its fifth year in a row last spring and aims to provide a fun and challenging twist to the normal walk/run as participants are  challenged to walk backwards. 

Another ongoing fundraiser that benefits CCK is the Houchens Mobile Program, where community members can donate a dollar at participating Houchens stores in Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.  Coming this November, the center will host its 2nd annual Moonshine and Music event at Highland Stables, a former horse barn and current venue owned by the Mosleys that’s located just outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“We are so lucky to be a part of the South Central Kentucky culture,” Steakin says. “The people in Scottsville, Kentucky and Bowling Green show so much appreciation and love towards CCK. If anything, the majority of our events that take place in both cities are overwhelmed with love and support. This is a great place for non profits to thrive.”

If you are interested in visiting, getting your child involved in camp, donating, or volunteering at CCK, check out their website at courageouskids.org and follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/centerforcourageouskids.

Walking Horse Report editorial director Sadie Fowler contributed to this story, which was originally published in VIP Bowling Green. 

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