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What's Goin' On? News, Current Events, Calendar, Press Coverage, and the Spirit Newsletter at Down Home Ranch, Elgin, TX 78621

The Latest News from DHR
DHR's December 2015
Spirit Newsletter

Read Previous DHR Newsletters

Upcoming DHR Events
Mark Your Calendars!

2016 DHR Golf & Gala:
Totally Texas!

Golf Tournament
Friday, Sept 16, 2016
Gala and Auction
Saturday, Sept 17, 2016
6:00pm - 10:00pm

2016 Chainsaw Manicure
Saturday, Oct 15, 2016 8a-5p

DHR's Annual Family
Christmas Dinner Party

Saturday, December 17, 2016, 6:30-8:30p

Rancher Family Weekend
February 3-4, 2017

Amplify Austin
24 Hours Starting
March 2, 2017, 6pm

Happy Birthday, DHR!
Founded May 12, 1989

2017 Swim Fest
Sat, June 10, 2017, 10a - 3pm

On-Going Events

Special Olympics Competitions
Area 13 Calendar of Events

Learn More About DHR's Special Olympics Program

UT Informal Classes
for Adults with IDD

Updates on Recent Events

2015 Golf Tournament

2014 Chainsaw Manicure Facebook Photo Album

Other Important Events

Hogeye Festival
October 22, 2016
Elgin, TX

NDSC National Convention
July 20-23, 2017
Sacramento, CA

Handouts and Videos from
Aging Matters: Growing Older with Down Syndrome
Hosted by NDSS and the
Seattle DS Community
Held June 27, 2015, Seattle

World Down Syndrome Day
March 21st, Every Year

News & Events

Thank You to Field Guide Films!

Over the years, Chris Hatcher of Field Guide Films has produced quite a few videos about Down Home Ranch. Here is a selection we know you'll enjoy!

400 Acres, Produced by Chris Hatcher and Andrew Eaton of Field Guide Films, February, 2016

Many thanks to Chris Hatcher who became interested in all that we are doing at DHR, came out for a visit, and interviewed eight of our Ranchers. These Ranchers with Down syndrome, autism, and other disabilities shared their stories of independence with Chris and how they live and work on our 400 acre ranch in Elgin, TX

Other videos created by Field Guide Films:

Housewarming, March, 2016
DHR 2015 - A Parent's Perspective, April, 2015
The Best Day of My Life, February, 2015
DHR: A Community of Opportunity, October, 2014
DHR - 20 Years of Thanks, April, 2011

Thank You to the Sunnybrook Volunteers!

In March of 2009 a caravan of women, men and children, most of them from Sunnybrook Christian Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma made their way to Down Home Ranch—the first of an ongoing annual pilgrimage. Spring 2016 marked the ninth year in a row, with 78 men, women and children coming.

Learn more about the history of our Sunnybrook volunteers and all the wonderful talents they have shared with each of us at Down Home Ranch.

We are honored and truly happy to welcome our friends from Stillwater, Oklahoma!

DHR's Latest Newsletter

Spirit Newsletter:  December 2015

Read Previous DHR Newsletters

We're excited to share all the lastest news about Down Home Ranch.

Here are a few highlights of what we've included in the December 2015 edition of the Spirit Newsletter:

  • Thank You for Your Continued Support
  • Many thanks to all our volunteers who bring generous hearts, hard work, lots of energy, and lasting friendships. We could never, ever have turned a dream into reality without them.
  • 2016 Calendar of Events
  • Make No Small Plans: History of Down Home Ranch, progress in 2015, and plans for the future
  • The Ladies of Martha House: Meet Elizabeth Arnold, DHR's Program Director
  • A Home of His Own: DHR takes delivery of one of several micro-houses
  • Developing DHR's Emergency Response Plan
  • Updates on Research on Down Syndrome
  • Ranchers Attend Classes at UT-Austin
  • Prince of Pasture: Jerry meets Joel Salatin, a leader in producing pasture-fed meats
  • We pay tribute to a dear friend and husband of a long-time DHR board member
  • Down Home Ranch offers a wonderful lifestyle to our Ranchers and their families, but organizations like ours are coming under threat from regulatory policies. Find out why in the Spirit Newsletter and how you can help support freedom of choice for people with intellectual disabilities. To learn more, visit Coalition for Community Choice.
  • Special Olympics World Games: Working toward making our mark on the world stage
  • Listing of DHR's Board of Directors, Administration and Staff

DHR Is In the News!

Down Home Ranch: A Place Where People of All Abilities Can Be Ranchers, Madison House Autism Foundation Blog, January, 2016

Many thanks to Desiree Kameka, Director of Community Education & Advocacy at Madison House Autism Foundation for taking the time to spend a day with all of us at Down Home Ranch. She has written a thoughtful essay, including lots of photos and one of our videos, about how 50 people with and without disabilities live at Down Home...demonstrating that they have more of a social life than many who live in cities with lots of people and few meaningful relationships.

Ms. Kameka makes a strong case for advocating for the importance of offering a range of housing choices for adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them the right to choose where to live and with whom to live — and not to have government officials or disability advocates make decisions for individual families.

She closes by saying, "Since visiting Down Home Ranch, I have visited at least 20 similar ranching/agricultural communities across the country. Those with autism or I/DD choose to call these farms and ranches home. They are places where their daily work is valued, where meaningful relationships have blossomed, and where they are integrated into their rural community. Reflecting the axiom of Temple Grandin, their choice of home and community is 'different, not less than' and should be respected and supported."

To learn more about offering adults with I/DD's a full range of housing and employment options, we invite you to visit The Coalition for Community Choice.

Down Home Ranch Residents Enjoy Special Gift, KXAN, 8/9/2015

Many thanks to KXAN for a wonderful article and accompanying video describing the special life at DHR through the variety of residential, vocational, and recreational programs offered at the Ranch. The article also described how the Ranchers are stepping up their fitness programs with the generous donation of quality exercise equipment from Concordia University.

Want to learn more about DHR? We invite you to watch the KXAN video, read more about life on the Ranch or, better yet, check out our Upcoming Events Listing at the top of this page and join us at the Ranch!

Local Wonders Series: Down Home Ranch - A Haven for the Intellectually Disabled, TWC News Staff, 12/4/2014

Image: Local Wonders - Down Home Ranch link to video at TWC YNN 12/4/2014 Click to watch the video

Many thanks to TWC's Your News Now for including Down Home Ranch in the Local Wonders series. The video features Jerry Horton giving a short history of how DHR has grown to become a community of opportunity, where DHR Ranchers "learn things and master things and take pride in their work and in their lives."

Learn more about DHR and how you can also join our "community of opportunity" through our volunteer program.

Down Home Ranch Poinsettias Spread Christmas Cheer, Elgin Courier, 12/2/2014

Image: Down Home Ranch poinsettias spread Christmas cheer at Elgin Courier 12/2/2014

Many thanks to the Elgin Courier for carrying a wonderful story about our poinsettias and how DHR Ranchers, our customers, and community volunteers help DHR grow, package, and deliver more than 12,000 poinsettias each year.

Learn more about DHR's poinsettias and how you can help us deliver our poinsettias this year through our volunteer program.

DHR's Latest Reflections

Reflections:  September 2014

By 1991, Fr. Nouwen had been living at the Daybreak L'Arche Community outside of Toronto for several years. No one would have predicted this brilliant scholar would spend the last years of his life as care-giver to one of their most helpless residents and being a pastor in a community for people with intellectual handicaps.

Nouwen himself was notoriously inept at the little chores of everyday life, forgetting to close the shower curtain and flooding the bathroom, or missing swaths of whiskers during his morning shave. He had lived, after all, a life of the mind. Read more of Heaven Is Like... >>

Recent Posts from the DHR Blog

A dream comes true..., 9/8/2014

Image: Down Home Ranch Swim Fest 2014 Swim Fest 2014

A few weeks ago we held the Swim Fest, our annual end-of-summer fundraiser where our Ranchers form swim teams to compete for various trophies and raise money for their winter cruise and other quality of life issues.

Swim Fest is low-key and most of our parents come out to cheer on the gang. I was sitting with one of the older moms when her son "Ken" came up. Ken's quite a kidder and after a few jokes and pulling of legs, he headed back to the water. Ken's mom turned to me and said "Thank you so much. He is so happy. And for the first time in my life, I don't have to hope and pray that he dies at least one day before me."

I was shocked when Kelly was small and I would hear parents--many parents--of older sons and daughters with intellectual disabilities say that their main goal in life was to outlive their child. For one thing, since Kelly was born when I was 42 and Jerry was 46, we figured that would be wishing a very early death on our daughter.

For another, we planned to make sure Kelly still would have a happy life even when we had passed on. We wished for her a long life filled with love and laughter and other people she cares about--her boyfriend Sterling, her sisters and extended family, her friends at the Ranch, who are many.   Read the full article >>

In the beginning..., 7/15/2014

Image: Dr. Jerome Lejuene, discoverer of cause of Down syndrome; Picture credit: Fondation Jerome Lejeune via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) Dr. Jérôme Lejuene, discoverer of cause of Down syndrome

When Kelly was five weeks old, the National Down Syndrome Congress convention came to San Antonio. Daughter Martha and I drove down to see what we could learn.

Jerry and I ... had also just received Kelly's karyotype, which showed, most curiously, four No. 21 chromosomes. This was, needless to say, worrisome to us (and unheard of to our physicians). If one extra chromosome could gum up the works, what would two do?

Fortunately, the very man who discovered the cause of Down syndrome was present at the conference.

Jérôme Lejuene was a French researcher, who in 1958 identified that an extra 21st chromosome caused the syndrome named after the man who first described it, John Langdon Down.

...I figured he would be interested in Kelly's karyotype, and I was interested in his take on it, so I stood in line to speak with him.   Read the full article >>

Another Post from Judy's Blog

Well glory hallelujah!, 2/10/2012

Dr. Jon Pierce, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, University of Texas, Austin Dr. Jon Pierce, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, University of Texas

Yesterday I wrote about coming advancements in the possibility of medical intervention to overcome the disabling effects of Down syndrome in the brain. This was in the context of a promise to a family with a newborn with Downs.

Little did I realize...

In today's Wall Street Journal there is an article on page A3 entitled "New Attack on Alzheimer's." It reports the success researchers at Case Western Reserve have had in reversing—not preventing—reversing advanced Alzheimer's in mice bred to develop the disease.

So? You may ask. Mice are not men and Alzheimer's is not Down syndrome. Read the full article >>

More News: Thanks for Spreading the Word!

Over the years, folks in the media have visited Down Home Ranch and shared wonderful stories, blog postings, news articles, and videos about us. The stories below will give you a flavor of where we've been and what we're doing now. Many thanks to these authors for sharing their stories and spreading the news about Down Home Ranch with others. If you'd like to catch up on the latest news and current projects at Down Home Ranch, check out the DHR Blog and our Facebook Page.

KXAN's Down Home Ranch Residents Enjoy Special Gift, 8/9/2015: This article and accompanying video describes the special life offered at DHR through the variety of residential, vocational, and recreational programs. We also thanked Concordia University for their recent donation of quality exercise equipment.

TWC's 2013 12 Days of Giving Series, 12/13/2013: This article and accompanying video features beautiful images of DHR's garden and ranch enterprises; and shows the many ways DHR welcomes volunteers to join our "community of opportunity."

Down Home Ranch, 4/20/2012: Higgins unHinged blog author is a very special, very long-time friend of Jerry and Judy. He shares a bit of that personal history in this post, along with a description of the early days at Down Home Ranch.

My New Home Town, 3/21/2012: bean&noodle blog author lovingly describes her recent visit to Down Home Ranch, shares pictures and a video.

Advancing Down Syndrome Research, 3/21/2012: Texas' First Lady, Anita Perry, gives a nod to Down Home Ranch.

Down Home Ranch - 20 Years of Thanks, 4/18/2011, a video by Chris Hatcher

Checking in at the Chicken Hilton: This is a reprint of an article, written by Judy Horton, that appeared on page 72 of the February/March 2011 issue of Backyard Poultry.

News 8 Austin, 12/21/10: Poinsettias Supply Down Home Ranchers with Holiday Spirit

Austin Statesman, 10/16/10: 'Texas Chainsaw Manicure' benefits Down Home Ranch
High Plains Observer, 10/16/08: DHR Earns National Recognition for Wildfire Preparedness

Assignment America, 6/8/07: Steve Hartman, The Vacation of a Lifetime

People Magazine, 5/21/07: Heroes Among Us - Home on the Range
People Magazine, 5/21/07: Heroes Among Us - Home on the Range (with extra photos)

Originally Published in the Dallas Star-Telegram, 12/3/06: Kelly's Gift


20250 FM 619 • Elgin, TX 78621  •  Directions
Email Us  •  Phone:  888.926.2253  •  Fax:  512.856.0256
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Down Home Ranch is a 501 (c) 3 Corporation .