Happy to be here

Volunteer Cacy Scott from Sunnybrook Christian Church of Stillwater, OK

I often correct people when they say Jerry and I “built” Down Home Ranch.  We're the Founders, but other people built it.

And I don't mean just the homes, the ponds, the greenhouses, the barns, and other structures.  I include the fences, the programs, and the organization.  They've done it every way from stacking chairs to digging postholes to trouble shooting technical glitches with our ever glitchy IT system.

Foundations gave us a lot of money to hire people to build these things, but volunteers enabled us to actually do it.  Over the past ten years alone we estimate that volunteers have contributed about 130,000 hours of love and labor.

Every now and then a closer relationship than usual develops with a group, as has been the case with Sunnybrook Christian Church of Stillwater, OK.  Rona Tracy, a church member blessed with a little one with Down syndrome, found the Ranch on the internet.  She got others interested and they decided to do a mission trip to the Ranch over spring break. We celebrated their fifth mission visit recently, and by now we all feel like family.

One special volunteer, though, has just a real special place in our hearts, and that's Cacy Scott, the lovely young girl pictured above kanoodling with Jenny (who loves to kanoodle!)

Cacy is 13, going into 8th grade at Pawnee Middle School in Pawnee this fall.  And she is a trouper.  She's here with her mom Rachel and siblings Wesley and Isabel helping out at Ranch Camp.

I first met Cacy when I walked into the Pavilion and was confronted with what seemed to be a face on the back of a head.  I quickly realized that the eyes, nose, and mouth were drawn there and that the two-faced little minx who talked a friend into the art work was quite a character.

At the age of two Cacy developed alopecia areata, a condition in which the body hair falls out, sometimes in patches, but often, as in Cacy's situation, completely.  Cacy's pate is egg-like in its smoothness, freckled and tanned by the summer sun.

I recently had my own bout with baldness and compared notes with Cacy on that matter.  Was she ever bullied at school?  Yes, but not because of being bald.  Did she get teased a lot?  Not really.  “All my friends are good with it,” she says with a smile and a shrug.

I told her as long as I had on my wig over the course of my treatment, people told me I looked fabulous no matter how I was feeling, and so I had decided that people must judge other people's health largely on the basis of their hair.  She laughed. “Yeah,” she said, “the hardest thing is people assume I have cancer and feel sorry for me.  One of the campers almost started crying.”

Cacy loves the Ranch and comes whenever she gets a chance. She says she feels at home at the Ranch and with the Ranchers, because “They always remember me when I come back, and everything we did going back to the first time I came!”

Mom Rachel told me that Cacy is already lobbying to stay longer next summer.  I asked her what she'd done so far this summer and she said she was with the Blue Team for two weeks, assisting campers with activities and this week she's a floating CIT, which means she stacks a lot of chairs!

Cacy's plans definitely include going to college and studying to become a music therapist like her friend Robin Buford, who we agreed must be the world's most enthusiastic, charismatic, and entertaining music therapist.  (Needless to say she is a favorite with our Ranchers, too.)  After college will come marriage and a family, and travel in Italy.

But by now it was time to be off to blow up water balloons, help with line dancing, and stack some more chairs.