Non-profit for children needs new home

By Brittni Johnson

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SHELLEY, Idaho (eastidahonews.com) — A local nonprofit in need of a new home turns to the community for help.

Larry Cudmore, a retired pastor and cancer survivor, runs Champ’s Heart. The non-profit organization is a ministry to share equine experiences with children and their family members who face challenges such as cancer and other disabilities. The organization also helps veterans, especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The organization was based in the North Bingham County Historical Park in Shelley. Cudmore said Champ’s Heart came to the park at the invitation of the Bingham County Commissioners, who offered Cudmore a 99-year lease in April 2021. But recently he was told that the commissioners did not have the authority to enter into a lease for that long because of Idaho’s code.

“When they found out they couldn’t close the 99-year lease, they offered me a five-year lease that was to be renewed every five years,” Cudmore explains.

When Cudmore decided whether or not to make Shelley the permanent home for Champ’s Heart, he also explored another land option that would have cost $300,000.

“I told them (commissioners) that I need to know you’re serious about this (99 year lease) and they said, ‘Oh yes, we are,'” Cudmore recalled. “So I let that land deal go.”

Cudmore wanted to build a $1 million indoor arena on Shelley’s property, but said the commissioners “will not be commissioners forever” and he “can’t spend a million dollars on a five-year lease.”

“The whole idea of ​​this indoor arena that we hope to build will be temperature controlled, so it doesn’t matter if it’s snowing or raining or really hot, cold or windy, the program can happen,” Cudmore said. “It’s important that the kids have a routine that doesn’t get broken.”

Champ’s Heart — which serves about 75 children, 10 veterans, and has waiting lists for both programs — was given until Sept. 30 before it had to be moved out of the park. Cudmore decided to leave two months early because, in addition to the rental issues, people had also filed complaints with Bingham County Animal Control about his horses.

Some of the complaints were that some of his horses were too skinny, the little ones too fat, and grain buckets were on the floor instead of hanging from the fence, Cudmore said.

“It was frustrating because imagine someone comes to your house and the police come in and interrogate you and accuse you of something you never did, and then they find out it isn’t true,” Cudmore said. “It was humiliating for me.”

Cudmore added that Animal Protection came out twice, but he was told the complaints were “fake.”

“The last straw was when I got there one day and someone cut half of my horse’s tail off,” he said. “I have decided that I have to leave at the end of September anyway. I’m not going to build the arena here and why put up with this stuff for another two months if who knows what’s going to happen?”

Champ’s Heart has stopped working while looking for a new home. Ideally, Cudmore said he would like the organization to be somewhere between Shelley and Rigby on 10 acres, but five is doable.

If you know of anyone who has land for sale or would be willing to donate land, please contact Cudmore at (208) 589-4082.

Financial donations to purchase land can be made at Venmo @Larry-Cudmore.

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