SEDALIA, Colo. — Kathy Hulley knows how to heal people.
“I have been a licensed counselor for a long time — mostly with teenagers,” she said.
She is the founder of The Mane Mission in Sedalia, which uses animal-assisted therapy to improve the mental health and well-being of underserved individuals and groups.
“The animals are everything to therapy. The best therapists have fur and four legs,” she said.
Hulley founded the organization with her husband Mike on their ranch.
“Well, we’ve always liked working with people with disabilities and other groups, especially young people,” he said. “So, it was just a good fit for us to be able to do something together and to be able to give back.”
On the first Wednesday in July, the Hulleys welcomed teens and young kids from the nonprofit Developmental Pathways in Aurora. The organization provides support for individuals with developmental disabilities.
There are several animals for the kids to interact with, including Boomer the horse, Ryan Gosling the goose, and Bruno the German Shepherd.
“We connect with them so much like Bruno, Boomer, like all these different animals and the goats and the cows,” Amanda Hamid, who visited The Mane Mission, said.
These animals are able to understand the kids on a deeper level.
“They connect with how you’re feeling. If you’re sad, you’re having a bad day — they know. They actually know,” Hamid said.
For Hulley, it’s those connections that keep her getting up every day doing what she loves.
“It’s not a fancy place. And in the beginning, I was really shy about that. We finally let go with that and realized that the healing takes place from within when you’re out here — when you’re able to breathe, when you’re able to get muddy, when you’re able to run, when you’re able to be silly," she said.
Denver7 features a different Everyday Hero each week. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.