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A Winged Warrior for Soaring Wings Ranch

by Sonja J. Keith

Missy Newton of Greenbrier has seen firsthand the impact that Soaring Wings Ranch has had on young people, and she is showing her support in a special way.

Missy has enlisted as a Winged Warrior for the Ranch and is on a mission to raise money and awareness about the ministry. Three years ago, Missy ran her first half-marathon for Soaring Wings, and last year she participated in the relay. “This is the first time I’ve ever raised money for an organization,” she said.

Missy and her brother, Jeremy, work at Newton Tree Service, a business that has been a part of their family for 40-plus years. Their father started the business, which Jeremy now owns. Missy is the office manager.

Jeremy and his wife, Jennifer, have three biological sons and recently adopted three brothers who were living at Soaring Wings. “Jeremy has always had a heart for adoption,” Missy said. “Once he talked to Jennifer, she was on board. They knew they wanted to adopt a sibling group because they wanted to give kids an opportunity to stay together.”

Missy lives close to Jeremy and Jennifer, giving her an opportunity to spend time with her nephews. She “adores” being an aunt. “My nephews are over all the time,” she said. “I’ve always adored kids. I’ve always wanted to be more involved with the foster kid organization.”

While she does not enjoy running, Missy decided to run again this year because her oldest nephew, Cain, 16, has started running and would like to participate. “I’ve taken him to a few of the races here and there,” she said. “I decided this year I’m going to raise money for Soaring Wings. I think they are amazing. I absolutely adore their organization.”

Missy has raised about $800 toward her fundraising goal of $2,500 and is sending letters to businesses asking for their support. While she feels that Soaring Wings is a worthwhile organization, she thinks people don’t give to charitable groups like they used to, so fundraising is a challenge. “I would love to raise more than that because I know their goal is $10,000,” she said. “Conway, as a community, could do so much more than that.”

As she has talked to potential donors, Missy has noticed that some are not familiar with Soaring Wings and its ministry. “Most people don’t think about foster kids because it’s not in their life,” she said. “I would like to find a way to get people more involved with Soaring Wings. I’m hoping that just talking to people and sending letters that people will become more aware of it.”

Missy pointed out that her adoptive nephews still feel a strong connection to the Ranch, their house parents and founder Andrew Watson and his wife, Marla. “They loved being at the Ranch,” she said. “It’s a great place for kids because so many get totally forgotten. You have to hand it to Soaring Wings Ranch because they are providing a place for these kids where they can have a home and there is plenty of love, affection and kindness. These kids may never get to see that anywhere else.

“My biggest thing is who wouldn’t support a place showing such kindness and grace to kids.”

Missy said in her heart there is no distinction between her biological and adoptive nephews, who range in age from 11 to 16. “They are just great kids,” she said “I get three amazing nephews because Soaring Wings was there to take care of them before they came to live with my brother and sister-in-law.

“I think that is my biggest thing for Soaring Wings — the impact of what they are doing for these kids.”

With the event in October, there is still time to register for the Winged Warrior program and support Soaring Wings Ranch. Missy also welcomes any financial support. (Visit firstgiving.com/fundraiser/missy-newton/2016SWMarathon to donate.)

“I’m just trying to get as much money as I can for Soaring Wings Ranch.”