If you’ve not seen the movie, American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story, I encourage you to do so. It’s such an inspirational true story of Kurt Warner, who overcomes years of challenges and setbacks to become a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. Just when his dreams seem all but out of reach, it’s only with the support of his wife, Brenda, and the encouragement of his family, coaches and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is.
At Hope Remains Ranch we’ve seen our fair share of underdogs. Much like Kurt Warner, our underdogs are in human form too and they range anywhere from 5 years of age to adulthood. Behind the underdogs at the ranch, you’ll find a broken family trying to heal, a praying board of directors, a team of mentors, staff and volunteers fervently searching for ways to stand in the gap and a horse, sacrificing his or her grazing time to reach and teach the underdog about the hope found in Christ alone…
In the picture below you see two very different underdogs, however, both share similar foundations. The older underdog, is Tracey, a 24 old young man and former Marine. Tracey was served many years ago at the ranch. Tracey has faced many struggles in his life, some of his own making and others due to his home life circumstances, the passing of his birth dad, drugs, etc. The younger and smaller underdog is currently being served at the ranch, his name is Perry. Perry is only 10 and he struggles with anxiety, a rare salt disorder, has asthma and in 2021 was diagnosed with Oculomotor Dysfunction and Visual Processing. Neither of these young men would identify themselves as underdogs, however, life circumstances have unfortunately thrown that label onto them.
As Tracey faced and struggled through many emotional, physical, mental and spiritual rollercoasters, he met a man named Ed Fitch. Perry as mentioned above faces his share of struggles too. Perry receives vision therapy each week and comes to Hope Remains once a week, to meet with Red (our one-eyed horse) and before his mentor’s passing met with a volunteer named Ed Fitch. These two young people are among the many who had the privilege of walking this life and receiving wisdom, knowledge and love from a man named Ed Fitch.
On February 21, 2022, Tracey, Perry, the staff and volunteers of the ranch received the devastating news that our beloved Ed Fitch went home to be with his Lord and Savior at 3:04am. The news spread fast of Ed’s passing, but the hole left in our hearts seem at times to grow wider by the day, especially for Perry, Tracey and Paulette, Ed’s wife.
On March 2, 2022, many attended the Celebration of Life service of Ed Fitch. Tracey stood brave and gave a brief eulogy, Perry sat quietly beside his mom and in the distance stood another life changed, another mentee touched by Ed Fitch, Hunter; he was there to help carry Ed’s casket.
Underdogs, touched by an American hero, in our hearts……For the last 13 years, Ed Fitch invested his time, talents and heart into one person at a time. Each day, instead of wasting away his retirement years, Ed made a conscious decision to pour into others until he breathed his last breath. His crown in heaven I imagine will be large. He will receive and give hugs to loved ones that went on ahead of him. He will receive greetings of gratitude from hundreds that he sacrificed his life and time for each day. Ed Fitch is the definition of a true mentor. He stood and served in the shadow of the cross of his Savior and through his life he gave much to those that needed him.
Thank you, Ed Fitch for your service, for your friendship, for making us laugh until our sides hurt, for being creative with the names you gave the horses when they offended you in some way, for giving the best hugs and for modeling yourself after Christ in sacrificial giving to others. We miss you dearly. We love you very much and we look forward to seeing you again one day.
Jesus made His style of mentoring clear: He led so that we can follow. He said, “If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). Because Christ is our leader and we are to follow Him, Christian mentoring is a process dependent upon submission to Christ. Neither the mentor nor the candidate controls the relationship. As such, the process is best characterized by mutual sharing, trust, and enrichment as the life and work of both participants is changed. The mentor serves as a model and a trusted listener. The mentor relies on the Holy Spirit to provide insight, change lives, and teach through the modeling process.
Who are you pouring into each day? Are you mentoring someone? Are you leaving a legacy? Someone is always watching you. As others watch you, what do they see? Is your life pointing them to Christ or away from Christ?
Serving Him gladly,
Melanie Watt, Founder & CEO