My Town Hero: Batesville mom provides kids with second chance at childhood | My Town Hero
BATESVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - In Batesville, one woman has dedicated her life to helping children believe in themselves and lead fulfilling lives.
"When I first moved in I was scared to death,” said Jamey Vanlandingham, who first set foot on Cheyenne Ingram’s porch 7 years ago. "My parents at the time were not stable enough, and DHS stepped in. I'd gone from one place to the next.”
But this time was different.
"You walk in the door, and you immediately get a feeling like ‘I'm at home,’" Vanlandingham described, saying that Ingram welcomed him with open arms when he came to the Arkansas Sheriff's Youth Ranch in Batesville. "It wasn't like ‘Well what did you do? Why are you here?’ It was more of a ‘Well, you're one of mine now. Let’s be a family.’"
For Jamey, the ranch provided a second chance at childhood, but he wasn't alone. Cheyenne was raising several other young boys just like him who'd been abused or neglected.
"It's like you fall in love with these kids, and you can't leave," explained Ingram. This is why she's been a house parent to hundreds of kids at the ranch for the past 30 years. She's always had her husband Rick by her side. Together they have a son and daughter who were raised in this same house full of boys. "I treat these kids like they're mine. I don't see any difference when I look at them than I do mine.”
Today, she still has a house full of boys ranging from ages 7 to 17. Cheyenne admits it's not easy having close to a dozen kids in the house at a time, but like most moms she keeps them on a routine.
"They work from 8-11 on the ranch. They come home, we prepare lunch, and everybody has a chore," listed Ingram.
This includes 17-year-old Clinton, who's been at the ranch for a year now. Like most teens, Clinton is involved in sports like baseball and MMA, but no matter how busy the kids get, Cheyenne does her best to make sure they all feel loved.
"I try to make time to spend time with each child individually, even if it's just going to Batesville in the van just me and them," she added.
She's said the most stressful part is letting them go. They're each allowed to stay at the ranch after high school if they are in school, until they're socially and financially prepared to be on their own. Jamey, who is now 19, is doing just that. He's in paramedic school, working full time, and he credits his hero for helping him reach his true potential.
"Cheyenne provided the parent figure that I really needed and love and care to actually get me going. Without her, I don't know where I'd be," concluded Vanlandingham.
The Arkansas Youth Ranch also has campuses at Degray Lake, Fayetteville, and Mulberry.
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