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Helping with horses: Roanoke Ranch aims to impact at-risk kids

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LOWELL. Mich.,-- Aaron Decker says horses have helped save his life. It's part of the reason he decided to create Roanoke Ranch more than thirteen years go. The faith-based non-profit works with at-risk youth to build self-esteem, hope and confidence by working with horses.

"[A horse] helped bring me back to center and that's why I'm still here," Decker told FOX 17 News. "I think Winston Churchill said it best, there's something about the outside of a horse, that's good for the inside of a man, or I'd say a woman or a child.. they just connect."

Thousands of kids have come to the ranch from different organizations to take part in the activities for one day, or to participate in one of the camps held there every summer. They're taught about God, values and horses.

"They wash the horses, they brush the horses, we feed the horses. We have them interact in any way we can. And they love it.. they love every minute," said volunteer Kim Sweezie. "At the end of the day, they get to get up on a horse and ride a horse, and they smile from ear to ear. They just can't wait to ride. They love to ride."

Ottawa Hills High School senior Sabrina Ybarra loved the time she spent at the ranch this summer.

"I really like horses, so this place taught me so much," explained. "I feel like I got a great experience with it."

Decker said the ranch relies on volunteers and donations to run.

A fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, September 26th at Roanoke Ranch (11221 Grand River Dr SE, Lowell, MI)

For more information about the ranch, or to donate, click here.

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