The Sharon and Garry Shuster Story
For Sharon and Garry Shuster, it’s all about the kids!
And it has been for over three decades, at their beloved Jackpot Ranch in the Verde Valley of Northern Arizona, created solely for the purpose of welcoming underserved children, rescue animals, and wounded warriors to the world of nature, ranching, and a more down-to-earth way of life in America. The Shuster’s have lovingly created a state-of-the-art, safe haven for ‘heroes’ of all kinds who have never gotten to experience the basics of life, the beauty of the land, the joy of going to camp, and the importance of the American spirit.
Garry never got to go to camp as a child. Growing up in the cold and often rough times in Canada, Garry often dreamed of going to a summer camp where so many of his friends went, but knew it could never happen to him, until one day. When he was eight years old, someone, anonymously, paid Garry’s way to a week-long summer camp. He couldn’t believe that anyone would do that for him! He never knew the benefactor, but vowed that someday, he would help a child experience that same feeling of discovery, of belonging, of nature, and of team spirit!
He would dream of a place where the morning sun peaks over mountains, campers begin each day in a treehouse or an authentic Indian teepee, hike hidden trails, swim in a lazy river, fish, horse-back ride, canoe, paddle board, pet a myriad of tame and gentle farm babies, cook meals and s’mores on campfires by a lake each night, and roosters are the only alarm clocks around to begin another summer day in summer camp paradise.
When the Shuster’s discovered, just by chance, that an old rancher wanted to sell his land in the Verde Valley, they thought they were dreaming. And when they saw the ranch for the first time, they were sure it might be their worst nightmare! All they could do, was to pray they hadn’t made a huge mistake! As they began clearing off all the junk, the old cars, and the debris, dumped on it for so many years, the dream began to take form.
Thousands of children later, Garry and Sharon have made a ‘dream-come-true’ environment for underserved youth who might never have an opportunity to go to go a safe place where caring is a way of life and burning hotdogs, marshmallows and today’s catch over a campfire happens every evening. Where there are warm days, starry nights, and rainbows in the middle of the afternoon…and just maybe a jackpot at the end of each…just maybe!
So if you’ve ever had a dream, and then lived to see it come true, you’ll know exactly why the Shuster’s delight in keeping their dream, the beautiful Jackpot Ranch in Camp Verde, Arizona, alive, well-maintained, and ready for each new camper who is bussed in, walks in, or rides in, in their wheelchair (the Shuster’s are now building a bunkhouse facility complete with the latest in handicapped-approved sleeping and bathroom facilities)…they are all welcome and loved.
At Jackpot Ranch, we believe that when you find it in your heart to give one child a day at camp, you will know what it feels like to change a life and a heart…possibly forever. And maybe, just maybe…yours too!
The Jackpot Ranch Foundation is a 501c3 and is dedicated to rekindling the American spirit and giving kids of all kinds, an experience that will stay in their hearts and souls forever. To donate or for a private tour of our facilities, please call Dr. Maddy Paschal at 505-231-7331, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at www.jackpotranch.org.
We look forward to showing you our dream!