For more than 50 years, the disadvantaged children under the care of Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch suffered severe physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. On Aug. 31, the Child-Friendly Faith Project organized a reunion for survivors and their loved ones so they could find community, support and healing.

The reunion, which took place in Amarillo, Texas, offered survivors a chance to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. We took care for travel and accommodation expenses for most attendees.

Boys Ranch, as most people call it, is a privately funded facility begun in 1939 by Cal Farley, a professional wrestler and tire salesman who had no training in child development. Since then, the institution (which currently has a budget of $48 million) has sought donations from the community by marketing itself as a place that meets children’s needs.

What really was going on was ongoing, systemic, and severe physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. To make matters worse, last year, Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch dedicated a dorm building to Lamont Waldrip, a man who many survivors say brutally beat children and oversaw the abusive system as superintendent for many years until he retired in 1997.

Last December, the truth came out when an article as published in The Guardian. Soon after the news broke, Boys Ranch CEO Dan Adams admitted that the abuses had, indeed, taken place and offered a weak apology.

it’s unclear how many children have been victimized at Boys Ranch. According to its website, about 12,000 young people have lived at the campus in its 78-year history. A Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch Survivors Facebook group currently has 80 members. The CFFP has heard from men and women who say they were abused in recent years.

You can still help Boys Ranch survivors by donating today and letting us know you want your donation to go to this purpose. Our work advocating for these men continues as we work toward helping them achieve their goals. They include receiving meaningful financial help from Boys Ranch and making sure children there today are safe.

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You may also send a check to: Child-Friendly Faith Project, P.O. 14181, Austin, TX 78761.

Janet Heimlich is the founder of the Child-Friendly Faith Project, a national, nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity that raises awareness of religious child maltreatment. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of "Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment" (Prometheus Books), the first book to take an in-depth look at child abuse and neglect that is enabled by religious belief. She also hosts the podcast, "Parenting Beyond Belief." For eight years, Janet freelanced as a reporter for National Public Radio. She also has written non-fiction articles for such publications as Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Texas Observer. Janet has won nine journalism awards, including the Dallas Press Club’s Katie, the Houston Press Club’s “Radio Journalist of the Year,” and the Texas Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Janet received a B.A. in Communications with a minor in English from Stanford University in 1984.

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