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Runnin' WJ in financial straits

Runnin' WJ in financial straits

Nonprofit ranch says majority of its donations have dried up

December 15th, 2018 by Ashley Gardner in Texarkana News

Mercy Bunch rides a horse that is being led by a horse leader at the Runnin' WJ Ranch on Wednesday in Texarkana, Texas.

Photo by Hunt Mercier /Texarkana Gazette.

Runnin' WJ Ranch is having financial difficulties and may have to cutback on services if the situation continues.

"In the last 12 months our donations are down 60 percent," said Sam Clem, Runnin WJ executive director. "I don't think we're doing anything different. I just think people have forgotten we're out here. It's our day-in, day-out donations that have basically disappeared."

Runnin' WJ has a variety of programs, but it's most important one is its therapeutic riding program for children with different challenges, both physical and cognitive.

Approximately 120 of the 150 children who attend that program are either on full or partial scholarship. The ranch doesn't receive Medicaid, insurance or government assistance for the service it provides.

"My scholarship reserves are $700. If something doesn't change I can see getting to our barrel race in June but I can't see getting past that," he said.

The barrel race is the agency's biggest fundraiser and last year brought in $43,000.

"All June will do is catch us up," Clem said. "We have been a community ministry for 20 years but it's going to be up to the community to decide if we stay or go. It's that bad."

Runnin' WJ has four full-time employees with an operating budget of $350,000.

"That covers everything," he said.

The ranch does what it can to raise awareness by sending out quarterly mail-outs, updating its Facebook page and more.

"We're actually doing more awareness-type things than we ever have," Clem said.

In addition to therapeutic riding, the Runnin' WJ has a ladies' ministry to help women get their lives back together, is part of Tim Tebow's A Night to Shine, partners with a variety of different nonprofits in the area and more.

"We also normally provide jackets and shoes for the kids at Christmas but we aren't able to do that this year," Clem said.

Runnin' WJ needs a significant amount of donations to ensure all services continue.

"The main thing is we need probably $150,000 in the scholarship fund. That way children come first," Clem said. "We have 23 horses and the scholarship per horse is $1,200 per year which covers vet bills, feed, and hay for horses. That sounds like a lot but it's just 23 Sunday school classes adopting a horse. Everybody I have been calling and talking to, their first comment is 'I had no clue the ranch is in this situation.' I feel very strongly it's my job to make sure the community understands how serious the situation is. The ranch will be here next July but if something doesn't change I just don't know what it's going to look like and I don't know where you start cutting ministries."

Donations can be made online at runninwjranch.org or mailed to Runnin' WJ Ranch, 4802 S. Kings Hwy., Texarkana, Texas 75501.

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