Katelyn Usher Fund
As most of you know, Katelyn just went through a very traumatic experience. Approximately 6 months ago, she met a 16-year-old boy online and began chatting with him on a regular basis. They became very close. This "boy" turned out to be a girl (Krystal) posing as a boy. Katelyn was crushed when she found out the truth through another online friend. Here she was, trying to help this poor boy feel better about himself and his bad situation at home.
She immediately cut off communication with Krystal. Three months later, Krystal worked her way back into Katelyn's life through a series of online chats, asking for forgiveness and singing a sad song. That's when the manipulation went to another level.
Fast-forward to 2-weeks ago. Krystal managed to make her way from Michigan to Reno, NV. She snuck into our house and slept in our daughter's bedroom for 2 nights before we discovered her.
Katelyn explained to us that she was trying to help Krystal get away from home and, "Couldn't she just come live with us?"
Of course we couldn't do that.
Although we felt sorry for this girl, we decided it would be best to find a local shelter for the time being and take things from there. With the shelter being closed that day (Sunday), we decided to allow Krystal to stay in our house overnight with the condition that we would take her to the shelter the following morning.
That never happened.
At 1:30am the next morning, my wife Denise, woke up to find that Krystal was gone, Katelyn was gone, and our Suburban had been stolen out of our driveway.
We immediately contacted the Reno Police Department, who in turn put out a BOLO (Be On The Lookout) on our Suburban.
The next day, the FBI got involved and after 3 days of frantically searching for our daughter, the FBI was able to locate Krystal and Katelyn in Las Vegas, NV. The location they found them just happened to be the worst part of Las Vegas, where the sex-trafficking is rampant.
Over that 3-day span and without getting into too much detail, our daughter Katelyn was taken advantage of physically, emotionally, and mentally.
It was later confirmed that Krystal was actually an 18-year-old girl, not 16-years-old. She has been arrested and is facing multiple charges.
Although we were extremely relieved that Katelyn was back in our arms, we had to make a decision of what to do next to help our family, as a whole, deal with this traumatic experience.
We felt that it would be best to enroll Katelyn in a Teen Challenge Adolescent Girls' Center in Seale, Alabama. It's a lot farther away from home than we'd like, but this center happens to be one of the best in the nation and a lot of people within Teen Challenge made this happen.
That brings us to the reason we need financial help.
Denise & I will be able to visit Katelyn every other month throughout the course of her enrollment at Teen Challenge. That adds up to a lot of travel over the next 15 months. In addition, after Katelyn completes 1 year in the program, she is granted 3 separate home visits, so we'll have the opportunity to fly her home for a few days to spend some quality time with her.
It hurts our hearts to be away from her at this time. The triplets are sad as well, but they know that Katelyn is in a good school and that she is getting "better" each day. Denise & I know that this story will have a happy ending and that God has a purpose for everything. He's very good at bringing something "GREAT" out of something so traumatic and horrible.
We would like to thank you in advance for any support you may be able to offer at this time. We are so thankful for all of our family and friends who have comforted us and offered support in other areas throughout this time.
With heartfelt thanks,
Ian & Denise
Katelyn has had a major break-through over the last 3 weeks and we're happy to let you know that the following has all happened since then:
1. Katelyn was having a lot of the students come to her with all their gossip and back-talking. If you've known Katelyn at all, she's the type of person who wants to make people happy and sometimes that doesn't work in her favor because she gets caught in the middle. Well, she had finally had enough and stood up for herself and told all the girls, "If you want to keep bringing me all the garbage, you can just forget it. I'm not going to listen to anymore of this negative talk and I don't want to be a part of it anymore!" That was huge - and the reaction she got from the people who were bringing her this stuff was very positive. They understood where she was coming from and some of them actually apologized to her. That's when things really began to change in Katelyn's heart. It's as if a light bulb had been switched on and her demeanor has changed. She's open to what God has for her and excited about what He's going to do in her life.
2. The next week she was chosen by the staff be become a Big Sister in the program. A Big Sister is a mentor, a student who leads another "new student" in the program for their first 30-days. It's a leadership role that she embraced and she's currently a Big Sister for a young lady who just came into the program. Our prayer here is that she grows even more through the experience.
3. A week after that, Katelyn was 1 of 10 students who got chosen to go on a Missions Trip to Nicaragua! What! Of course this was super exciting for all of us and when we visited Katelyn in August, there was word that some of the students would be going and Katelyn mentioned to us that she would be thrilled to do something like that. And here we are. This shows us that the staff has come to trust and see tremendous growth in our girl. They don't just choose anyone for this type of trip. Although this is a very exciting thing and a once in a lifetime experience, there are some additional costs that we need to cover for her to be able to go on this trip. The total cost is $1,800 and all financial gifts are due by October 15th. We are praying for the money to come in and if this is something you feel is worthy of supporting we would be very grateful. At the same time, we know that we've been fundraising for our family over the course of the last year to cover traveling expenses, so we understand if you want to pass on this one.
If you do feel like supporting Katelyn on this Missions Trip to Nicaragua, here are the details:
Please make checks payable to Teen Challenge Columbus Girls Academy. Please be sure to write Nicaragua and Katelyn Usher on the memo line of the check. If you would like to send your gift direct, please send to:
Teen Challenge Columbus Girls Academy
14 Motts Drive
Seale, AL 36875
We're so very thankful for your continued support, prayers, and kind words from the time this whole experience started. We have the best friends and family ever.
Ian & Denise
We thought it might be a good time for an update, being that it's Katelyn's 15th Birthday TOMORROW! Woo Hoo! Our girl is definitely growing up and although we can't be with her on her special day we do get a chance to speak with her for 5 minutes on the phone tomorrow.
So today, the whole group gave her a Pizza Party at the center and Denise & I provided the cake for all the students & staff and balloons, and flowers for KK. We sent along a couple gifts earlier in the week - special gifts from Mom & Dad that she could treasure for the rest of her life.
We talked with her Counselor and seems Katelyn is still holding back - trying to do this whole thing on her own and not letting the Lord take control. This has been a constant prayer of ours, that Katelyn would allow God to take some of the burdens she's holding onto.
We ask that you would continue to pray for her, especially in this next coming week. The TC staff is busy preparing for their Purity Conference, which starts next Wednesday, August 2 through Friday, August 4. It is a conference that the counseling team put together to review the many topics of sexual purity, relational integrity, internet integrity, and genuine beauty. They utilize skits, videos, presentations, statistics and discussions to bring this relevant subject to reality for the students.
Please pray that God would give them the words to speak and that the Holy Spirit would open the eyes of our daughter's heart to understand how this applies to her and give her a firm conviction for her own purity.
I put together a little collage of pictures that Denise will post tomorrow on Facebook for Katelyn's birthday. In 3 weeks, Denise & I will have our last pass visit with Katelyn in Alabama and then in October, November, and December she will be flying home for 4 days each of those months to be with us until she completes the program. We're definitely feeling the strain financially as we are booking these last few trips - especially the November & December trips because those are during the holidays and the prices are outrageous! If you feel led, we could still use some financial support - a few of our family members have really helped us out, as well as our dear friends Steve & Christine (frequent flyer miles) to help with those more expensive flights.
You have all been so gracious to us with your financial support, prayers, and notes. We can't thank you enough for everything over this last year. You are all a blessing to us.
With much love and appreciation,
It seems like it's been forever since we did an update - and it probably has! I'm sorry about that.
Well, we did have another chance to fly out to Alabama and visit with Katelyn on June 17-18th. This time around Gramma Bon Bon was able to join us! She flew out there from Texas and Katelyn really enjoyed being able to throw her arms around her and get some more grandma love. Last time we went out, in April, it was Nana Linda who got the turn to visit.
I'm sorry to say, that we really dropped the ball on the pictures this time around. We are usually better about taking pictures but for some reason, probably because it felt like we were going from one place to the other so fast, we didn't do a great job of snapping those pix.
The flight for all of us was very uneventful, thank God, so we got in on Friday night and Denise & I had the opportunity to sit with Katelyn for a couple hours during a graduation ceremony they were holding for some of the students. We think of that as BONUS time with our girl because they don't always have a graduation ceremony going. So of course we enjoyed that.
On Saturday, when Katelyn met up with us in the morning, Denise & I & Katelyn sat down with her Counselor and had our very first family counseling session together. It was an opportunity to let Katelyn know that we were all pulling for her, praying for her, and asking God for the healing that we know He can provide for her. Questions were answered, tears were shed, and overall Denise & I thought that Katelyn was very receptive and positive. She's been on a roller coaster ride that doesn't seem to have that many stops along the way, however, we do feel like she's on the upswing.
That day, Saturday, we went to lunch at her favorite spot - Habachi's" and had a nice lunch together. It was quality time, especially for Gramma Bon Bon, who hasn't seen Katelyn in a year.
From there, we decided to try something new for all of us. We found this place called "Escape This Live" which is an interactive adventure game designed for up to 10 people. Well, we only had the four of us and we could have used 6 other people after it was all said and done! Basically, it's like the game Clue. You get locked in this room and you have to find all the clues to figure out who killed who with what. Each clue unlocks doors and other things as you go along and you have 60 minutes to complete the thing and you only get 3 "life-lines". We used up 2 of them in the first 10 minutes! BUT, we did unlock some stuff and just when we were getting on a roll we ran out of time - dang it! Anyway, it was pretty fun.
Then we took Katelyn to get a few minor things that she needed at the store and Bon Bon treated us to dinner. Then it was back to the center for movie night. It's really cool because all the movie nights they have are Christian movies that are actually pretty good. I know there are some real duds out there but the ones they have showed so far have a great message and are very entertaining. This last movie was called "Courageous". If you haven't seen it, you should check it out. We took turns swapping seats so we could give Katelyn love during the movie and share popcorn with her.
The next day was Father's Day so I was very happy to be spending it with my big girl. The triplets & I had a little celebration of Father's Day before we left on the trip so no one missed out on the fun - especially me! We went to church that morning and the pastor gave an incredible sermon on the importance of fatherhood. As I sat there and listened, I thanked God for giving me such incredible children and squeezed Katelyn's hand practically the whole service.
From there, we went and had a little bite to eat and then Katelyn wanted us to take her to this ceramic painting place that the girls at the center had gone to on one of their outings. It was set up in this cute little house and they had all these ceramic figures that you could choose from to paint. Denise & Bon Bon decided that it would be more fun if they watched Katelyn and I do the painting. Of course Katelyn's little whale turned out much better than my turtle but we had a lot of fun spending that time doing that.
The hardest part is always saying "good-bye". But the growth and maturity that we are seeing in Katelyn every other month is incredible. She is growing stronger in the Lord and gaining confidence in herself. And before we know it, she will be home with us again.
One unfortunate thing happened a week after we returned from the trip. Our oldest dog, Katelyn's dog - Mandi, had to be put down. We noticed that she had been lethargic and limping a bit. When Denise took her to the vet they discovered cancer in a number of different places. We asked the vet if it would be possible for her to survive until October, when Katelyn comes home for a home visit, but with the rate that the cancer had spread it was very unlikely. So we made the difficult decision of putting her down. Of course this broke all of our hearts, most of all Katelyn's when we told her over the phone last week.
We'd like to ask you all to pray for her that God comforts her through this time. We know it was hard enough to put her down but for Katelyn not to get a chance to say goodbye to her was definitely tough.
We can't thank you enough for all your prayers and support already. You have all be amazing. Denise & I have one more Pass Visit with Katelyn on campus in August and then Katelyn will be coming home for 4 days in October, November, and December. She will graduate in January of 2018.
Denise will be posting pictures on Facebook as well - sorry we don't have more for you this time around. We had a great visit - love you all!
Ian & Denise
Well, we just got back from our April visit with Katelyn and this time is was a family reunion. Thanks you all of your amazing financial support and some donated airline miles from some incredible friends, we were able to take the triplets and Denise's Mom (Linda) with us this time. We got back to town on Monday afternoon and we're just now catching our breath.
Where to start! Well, let's start at the beginning of the trip. It was a 4am wake up call on Friday morning as we headed to the airport for the long trip. The triplets were so excited that they got to ride on a real airplane. This was their 2nd trip through the air but the first trip was when they were 2 years of age so that didn't really count. Anyway, for the most part we maneuvered through security and all the lines fairly smoothly. If it weren't for the kids coin purses that were in their travel-on bags, we would have got through there unscathed but I think they liked being pulled aside by Homeland Security to check through their bags (oops!).
When we landed in Alabama it was a 2 hour car ride to Katelyn's school so we heard a handful more "Are We There Yet's" before we finally arrived around 7:30pm. That night, they were holding a graduation ceremony for some of the girls so that meant that any visiting parents had the opportunity to attend the ceremony and sit with their child. Denise & Linda offered to stay with the trips so that I could go to the graduation and see Katelyn for about an hour. As you can imagine, she was super excited that we had landed and couldn't wait to start the weekend with us.
Saturday morning started with a meeting between Denise & I and Katelyn's classroom teacher. The report we got was nothing but positive and we learned that she made the honors list again this time around with all A's & B's. The kids had a chance to play in the Teen Challenge game room while Denise, Linda, and I attended the family meeting before we got to see Katelyn.
When the time came, Katelyn came through the door and the triplets engulfed her with hugs. Then we all took our turns giving her a bunch of love. Their were smiles all around and Katelyn had a gift for each one of us as well - handmade bracelets!
Over the last month, the students at TC have been doing Fine Arts and producing a variety of different art projects. We came to find out that Katelyn placed 1st & 3rd in her age group so we had a chance to go view her artwork in one of the rooms on the property!
Then we were off and running! We all packed into a minivan that we rented for the weekend that just happened to be the exact make and model of Denise's vehicle at home (a Toyota Sienna). It was the only vehicle available that would handle our brood for the weekend :)
We had some lunch at Katelyn's favorite buffet restaurant nearby, called Habachi's (which was inexpensive as well so that helped). After some great conversation, food, and love we headed out of town to go on a Safari ride. It was about an hour away so it gave us a chance to catch up with Katelyn some more.
The Safari consisted of a 1-hour bus ride through the park where you were able to buy little bags of food (pellets) to feed the animals along the way. It was early afternoon by the time we got to the park so most of the animals were full from all the food they'd already been fed by other Safari goers but we did get a chance to pop a couple pellets into some mouths along the way. The temperature in Alabama that day was a comfortable 84 degrees which was about 20 degrees warmer than Reno, NV so that was a blessing.
As we headed out of the park and onto a backroad to head back, we were met by a Fire Engine in the middle of this two lane road and a helicopter coming down right in front of us. Apparently they were life-lifting a person who had caught on fire in his house just off this road. Not good.
That night we had the opportunity to share a family movie night with Katelyn and all the other kids and their parents at the center. The triplets took turns spending time on Katelyn's lap throughout the movie and we called it a night around 9:30pm
The next day just happened to be Easter Sunday and our 23rd Anniversary all rolled into one! It was great to be able to spend that special day with all of our little ones. We attended an Easter service that was held at a downtown event center and they packed the house. There was close to 8,000 people at this service!
Immediately following the service, after fighting the traffic to get out of the parking lot, we enjoyed a movie called Boss Baby at the local theatre. Then we made our way next door to let the kids play a few video games and finished things up with some ice cream.
When we dropped Katelyn off at the school, we were all in tears. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. It was hard to see the kids leave their big sister but I think Stephanie put it best when she got back to the room and said, "Dad, I think Katelyn is even a better big sister now then before."
We're encouraged to see Katelyn's growth each time we visit her. We know that it's hard to be away from her at this time and it's been a toll on the entire family but we know she's in God's hands. He's doing a good work in her and her life will be forever changed through this process.
Thank you again for all your prayers and support. We can't say it enough - you, our friends, are so much appreciated. We love you all and Denise will be posting pictures shortly - if she hasn't done so already!
Hi Ian! Our address is as follows: Ben and Millie Lacy 1550 Raleigh St Apt 271 Denver, CO, 80204 I couldn't figure out how to respond via email so I've just decided to leave it for you on here :)
Katelyn is definitely turning into a beautiful young woman and I know God is helping her understand more about life every day. Glad to see she is proudly wearing the Teen Challenge shirt. That color looks good on her.
Happy birthday Katelyn!
It is always a pleasure to get updates on how she is doing. Thanks for sharing...
This is such wonderful news! It brought tears to my eyes to hear about the love overflowing in your family. It's so nice to hear that Katelyn is healing and doing awesome with her studies. Thank you for sharing God's goodness with us. It is such an encouragement...
So happy to see this visit went so well and the trips and Nana were able to give Katelyn lots of love as well Mom and Dad. I know it was good for her to give back all the love she has been storing up. It is encouraging to her and all of us to see the progress. Can hardly wait for June when it will be my turn. Love you all, Gramma Bonbon
I know you guys do not know me and I do not know if you will see this but I know Katelyn and I miss her so much and I think if you tell her that I still think of her it will give her hope and motivation to get through these tough times.... If you read this, contact me.
What an encouraging report! I can imagine how hard this has been for Katelyn...getting through the first 3 months is awesome!!! What a story she will have to tell! I believe God is going to use her in a mighty way for His glory. My prayers will continue for all of you.
Ian and Denise, Our prayers continue for you and Katelyn and know God is faithful to guide your steps and keep you in His care. Blessings and love, L'Adonna and Wes