Opelika golf tourney is in memory of Girls Ranch
children killed while returning from G.S. vacation
A tragic multi-vehicle crash on I-65 in Butler County claimed the lives of nine children and one adult, including eight children who were affiliated with the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, has continued to inspire thousands of people from around the world to reach out in support of the ranch, a nonprofit organization that provides a home for neglected or abused school-aged children.
The girls ranch van was traveling home from a beach vacation in Gulf Shores when the accident occurred on Interstate 65 in Butler County.
The ranch has collected over $500,000 on GoFundMe in donations to provide a loving Christian home for children in need. Those donations have allowed administrators to re-open a ranch for boys in St. Clair County. Since the June 19, 2021 accident, six children at the ranches have graduated high school and 13 have been baptized.
“We know that those children’s lives made a different in the ranches too because people know about us all over the country and the world now and what a great job we’re doing with young people,” Michael Smith, CEO of Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches, told WSFA 12 News on the one year anniversary of the crash. “The fortunate thing for us in our hearts that we know is that all eight of those children loved God. We know that they’re in heaven and we do get to see them again one day, and we have the happy thoughts that we think about those young people every day. It’s a healing process and it will never end.”
In addition to gofundme and direct donations, Lyn Wheatley with Safety Net Behavioral Healthcare and the first college graduate from the ranches will host an August 9 golf tourney at Robert Trent Jones-Grand National in Opelika in honor of the children. Call Pat Downing at 334-462-0432 or Molly Gray at 334-531-6842 or 334-213-2071 for more info about sponsoring the charitable event. More info: alsyr.org.