Blackjack, craps, roulette, Texas Hold ’Em and other games of chance will all be part of the fun that begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m. After dinner, attendees can dance the night away to music of the Anders Brothers Band.
“Come play, dance, eat and have a rip-roaring good time!” the event’s poster says, and it’s all for a good cause, said Kathy Hamm, who co-founded both Dream Catcher and End of the Trail near Olathe.
Dream Catcher Therapy Center provides equine therapy for children and adults with disabilities, and the sanctuary offers abused and neglected horses a chance to be nurtured and cared for.
“We’ve been doing this for ten years, and it’s our largest event that helps us get through the winter,” Hamm said. “We’ll do a presentation and allow people to see what we do, but we want people to come out and have a good time. It’s all for the kids and the horses.”
Tickets are $20 and can be bought at Alpine Bank, which is sponsoring the event, or at the door, Hamm said.
Money raised will be used to help the horses get through the winter, when classes slow down and the number of volunteers tend to shrink.
If you can’t come to the event, donations and volunteer time are greatly appreciated, Hamm said. Find out more about both programs at the website dctc.org or by calling 323-5400.
Kathy Hamm and her husband Bill founded Dream Catcher in 1999, inspired in part by wanting to do help their daughter Ali, who was born with Down syndrome. Since then, the therapy center has been approved as a Special Olympic Equestrian Center and just this spring, End of the Trail received verification status from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
Jeannine Alexander, the equine deputy director of GFA Sanctuaries, wrote in the verification letter that Hamms’ ranch, where both the sanctuary and therapy center are located, has grown into a full-time operation with licensed therapists, counselors “and over 30 well-mannered horses.” Hamm also took on nine more horses from the recent BLM roundup.
But most importantly, the center has helped more than 1,200 disabled children and adults since it opened, including many veterans.
Alexander also noted that while helping children is the major focus, helping horses is also very important, and Kathy Hamm is a certified equine investigator, completing the highest training offered by the National Animal Cruelty Investigations School at the University of Missouri.
“Hundreds of horses have been helped by this outstanding nonprofit, through rescue and adoption,” Alexander wrote.
For more than a decade, Kathy Hamm said she has witnessed the healing impact that horses have on people with mental and physical challenges.
According to its website, at the Dream Catcher Center, specially trained therapists use hippotherapy to treat people with neurological disorders, ADHD, spinal cord injuries, developmental delays and other problems. In addition to enhancing attention span and the ability to focus in the classroom, hippotherapy improves posture, coordination, muscle strengthening and a positive change in cognitive and behavioral areas. This entails employing physical, occupational and speech therapy, using the horse as a tool “to address impairments, functional limitations, cognitive delays, and disabilities in patients with neuro-musculoskeletal dysfunction,” according to the website.
People with mental health problems also benefit at the center with a program called Equine Assisted Therapy, a growing field in which horses are used as tools for emotional growth and learning.
Hamm said abused or neglected horses that are nursed back to health often become wonderful therapy horses, but because the need is limited, in 2006 she and her husband officially started to sanctuary to take care of the overflow.
Some horses can never be ridden, so they go to special homes or stay at the sanctuary until they pass away, while others go to foster homes, are used in the Dream Catcher program, or are leased out or adopted, according to the website.
“The most powerful thing we have witnessed is how our clients heal and feel while nurturing and caring for the animals that have been relinquished, starved or neglected,” Hamm said. “While helping others we heal our own heart.”