Rainbow Acres marks 30 years

Staff photo by Carol Keefer

A special moment - Pat Boone (right) sings with the Rancher Choir.

Founded in 1974, today's campus includes learning venues and seven new homes for 80 developmentally challenged adults, respectfully known as Ranchers, with future plans for more.

Those leading churches that have supported Rainbow Acres throughout the years were acknowledged during the special dinner program on Oct. 29. Locally, the Church of the Red Rocks, of Sedona, was listed among the top 10. The catered meal by Rose's started with a special musical performance by the Rancher Choir led by Donnie Andrews, also vice president of operations.

The Rev. Ralph Showers, as keynote speaker, discussed the early struggling years and "The Founding Vision." He, wife Marilyn, and the Rev. Larry and Joy Goehner, are attributed as founders of Rainbow Acres starting with cashed-in insurance policies, 10 acres and four Ranchers, Ron Yeatman being the first.

Local celebrities Richard Levy and John Wade acted as master of ceremonies introducing several VIPs throughout two-day event including wheelchair vocalist Rev. Jim Hukill, and Dr. Cheryl Wade.

"If it wasn't for this place, we'd all be institutionalized," Brent Peterson, a rancher since 1995, told a crowded audience of onlookers at Saturday's Open House.

Peterson is involved with Special Olympics and was once voted "inspirational athlete of the year."

"Here we found the help that was missing," said another Saturday speaker, Pastor Grant Yeatman, who was among the many mothers and fathers who attended. "On behalf of the parents, let me express my deepest, deepest appreciation."

Mayor Mitch Dickinson told the large crowd on Saturday that as a native Camp Verdean, he has watched Rainbow Acres grow. He noted that Rainbow's work has provided examples of benevolence, compassion, determination, endurance, gentleness, joyfulness, loyalty and patience.

The Rev. Gary Wagner assisted Showers, Goehner, John Walling, president of the Christian Community Credit Union, and Board Chair Fred Bezanson in a special mortgage burning ceremony held during the Oct. 30 program.

"Rainbow Acres is now debt free," Wagner said. "Every new house has been paid for in full."

Wagner was also honored Saturday with a plaque by the Rainbow Acres board of trustees "for capturing and nurturing the vision" when he took over as CEO/President in the 1990s. Wagner would acknowledge the support of his wife, Jussara his two sons, Nathan and Calib, and "an incredible staff" including Roberta Patrick (right) and Elli Nakano, who have been with Rainbow since 1974, and longtime volunteers, like, Mary Pendleton.

Dr. Patrick Pang, Rainbow Acres vice president for advancement, was credited with enticing guest Pat Boone to the Middle Verde campus.

Boone started his career on the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour and went on to have 38 top 40 hits, only outsold by Elvis Presley during the formative years of rock 'n' roll. He is now marking his 50th year in show business.

Boone shared his music and personal stories, and in a very special moment for the residents, joined the Ranchers' Choir in song.

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