A 14-year-old student used this year’s Mancos Days festival to raise money for the organization that helped his brother.
Ty Everett, who is about to enter ninth grade at Mancos High School, organized a basketball shootout on the second day of the festival to benefit Medicine Horse Center, an equine therapy clinic that helps people with physical and mental disabilities, as well as those recovering from trauma, by allowing them to bond with horses.
Ty’s younger brother, Cash, has been a part of the center’s AWARE program for children with social and emotional problems for three years, and Ty said he wanted to help other children participate in the program. He presented a $2,237.50 check to clinic director Lynne Howarth on Monday.
Ty’s mother, Kaelan Everett, said Medicine Horse has been “life-changing” for 11-year-old Cash, who struggles with emotional problems. The not-for-profit center’s student scholarships make it possible for him to attend therapy sessions there. Ty said he’s “not a horse person” himself, but he knows his brother loves the center, so he decided to help make the same benefits available to other children.
“I just wanted to raise some money so it could keep going,” Ty said.
To achieve that goal, he decided to use one of his favorite sports as a fundraiser. About 42 people entered the shootout at the Boyle Park basketball court, where they paid $5 each to compete. Several companies, including Hibbett Sports and Boutique Air, also sponsored the event, which allowed Ty to offer a $200 grand prize drawing to competitors. Mancos student Bryan Jaime won both the prize and the three-point part of the shootout.
Medicine Horse relies largely on individual donations, Howarth said, so Ty’s gift will go a long way. “Raising this kind of funding really does help us expand what we do,” she said.
Medicine Horse has operated near Mancos and Durango since 1999, but Howarth said she has about 30 years of experience with therapeutic riding. She said horses can sense how a person feels, which makes them perfect partners for mental and emotional therapy.
“Horses get a read on what’s really going on inside of us, as opposed to what we say is going on inside of us,” she said. “They’re responding to us in the moment ... they’re very honest with their reactions.”
The center’s horses are mostly older animals that have been donated by former owners or rescued from abusive homes. Before going to work, they go through 30 days of temperament testing and then a special training course that varies in length depending on whether they will specialize in working with the physically or mentally disabled. Howarth said she and her employees look for horses with a calm disposition and plenty of life experience.
Kaelan Everett said working with horses has made Cash happier and helped him get along better with others.
“This place is special to us,” she said.
Classes from local schools often come to Medicine Horse through the AWARE program to perform teamwork exercises and learn how to care for animals. Howarth hopes to build an on-campus therapy site for the Mancos School District, which is short on counselors.
In the meantime, though, she said the proceeds from the basketball shootout could provide scholarships to as many as six students. Ty said he plans to make the fundraiser an annual Mancos Days tradition.