Kari Booth could not have known just how much her life was about to change.
As a full-time employee for Verizon, Kari, 37, her husband, John, 40, and son, Dehryen, 16, moved to the Lake Norman area from Florida in 2007.
Soon after their arrival, Kari Booth formed a vision of owning horses and having a place that would help less fortunate kids. Kari, who was a "little sister" in a Big Brothers Big Sisters program, spent much of her childhood on her Big Sister's ranch, fueling her love of animals, and especially horses.
Her vision was launched in 2008 and morphed into Triple Cross Ranch Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged horses and people. Booth left her steady paycheck behind and devoted herself to her dream.
Triple Cross Ranch is located on Shinnville Road, Mooresville, and the Booths live on the property. The ranch's logo, which incorporates three prominent crosses, leaves no doubt as to where Booth and her family stand. They are Christians.
Booth describes many events in her life, including the success of Triple Cross Ranch, as a "God thing." Although Triple Cross Ranch does provide some faith-based programs, no one has to participate in them unless they elect to do so.
"We try to harvest great mentor relationships with a God-based internal atmosphere," said Booth.
Triple Cross Ranch has two main purposes. First, it is an equine rescue facility that rehabilitates unwanted, neglected and abused horses.
The Booth family's love of animals is evident. In March 2008, Triple Cross Ranch acquired their first three horses via a search on Craig's List. Currently, Triple Cross Ranch is home to 12 horses, five barn cats, two dogs, one chicken and two pot belly pigs.
"And that's just this week," said Booth.
Triple Cross Ranch's other distinct purpose is to facilitate individual and group activities using Equine Assisted Experiential Learning (EAEL) programs. EAEL is a "hands on" way of learning through observation, reflection and interaction. Current programs include those for adults and children with disabilities, home-schoolers and disadvantaged kids from foster care or other programs.
Kids are mentored either by junior or adult volunteers. Currently, Triple Cross Ranch has 60-70 volunteers who are pretty active throughout the year. In October, toward the end of the riding season, Triple Cross Ranch was averaging about 40 children per week who came to the ranch.
In the three years since the launch of Triple Cross Ranch, the Booth family has discovered how therapeutic the horses can be.
After being attacked and suffering a traumatic brain injury in March 2009, Dehryen Booth had to learn how to do many things, like writing, over again. Although Dehryen is still in physical therapy and has a learning disability, Booth credits some of Triple Cross Ranch's methods of therapy for healing Dehryen and bringing him so far from where the injury left him.
Chuck Andrews, 52, is Booth's business partner and friend. Andrews lives on the property with the Booth family.
Andrews is from Texas and first met Booth through their respective careers at Verizon.
After going through a divorce and the loss of both his parents to cancer in 2008 and 2009, Andrews needed a fresh start.
He often visited the Booth family in North Carolina for support and reflection. Booth asked Andrews to become her business partner. Andrews spends most of his time, about 60 hours a week, as the ranch manager caring for TCR's horses.
Booth's husband, John, is a project engineer for Schneider Electric and the only one living on the ranch who brings home a paycheck. However, support always comes to keep Triple Cross Ranch running.
One of Triple Cross Ranch's goals is to build a retreat center for overnight guests and to have an indoor place for summer camp activities.
"I leave it in the hands of God because I know he provides. He doesn't provide what we need extra. He provides what we need to make it," said Booth.