Gary Hansen, president and founder of Financial Strategies in Loveland, Colo., has teamed up with Downs on the Farm, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that has therapy and day programs for disabled young people.
Hansen has vowed to help raise $45,000 to build handicapped accessible restrooms, a therapy room and space for housing rescued animals at Downs on the Farm. The farm, on five acres in Berthoud, Colo., has therapy and rehabilitation programs for young people with a variety of disabilities, including Down syndrome.
Shawna and David Hodges own the farm, which is open at no charge to disabled children and young adults.
The affiliation between the three began about two years ago at the church they attend but has now spread to Hansen's clients, who he says share his desire to give back to the community. Disabled children help care for the animals and ride the horses, which helps them build motor skills and self-confidence, Shawna Hodges says.
"We have had clients send in $30 and $3,000. I don't care who gives or how much," says Hansen. "I guess it goes back to the fact that I have strong Christian values and, when all is said and done, I want to make this a better place by the time I leave." He and his staff of five focus on retirement planning, insurance and fixed annuities.
"I talked with the staff and we decided Downs on the Farm would be a good thing to get involved with," he says. They have raised about $9,000 for the farm so far.
Hansen's interest in helping the disabled was sparked by a handicapped niece and a young man with Down syndrome whom he mentored. At church, Hansen became acquainted with the Hodgeses and their 4-year-old son, Grady, who has Down syndrome.
"The pure love that these children have is just astounding," Hansen says. "A lot of people look on these situations as something unfortunate, but I see it just the opposite. We have been given a great opportunity by being able to know them."
To raise funds, Hansen and the Hodgeses hold picnics, races and candlelight ceremonies. Hansen and dozens of his colleagues and friends are going to donate the labor to build an outdoor facility that will also be used for The Special Olympics.
"It is humbling to have someone like Gary support us like this," says Shawna Hodges, who nearly broke into tears describing Hansen's work with the farm.
Learn more about the effort at www.downsonthefarm.org.