Everyone notices when Jaay comes into a room.
He’s loud and enthusiastic, with an infectious grin. Jaay approaches every event in his life with emotion, whether he is playing football or learning a new skill.
When Jaay arrived at Boys Ranch, his emotions weren’t always positive ones.
“I was a wrecking ball,” he said. “I just didn’t accept authority, the same as back at home. I feel like that’s the reason why I’m here. My houseparents really helped me understand that I’m bigger than being a grumpy kid all the time. They helped loosen me up to open myself to the world. I started doing things I never thought of doing.”
Trying Out a New Life at Boys Ranch
At Boys Ranch, Jaay has tried disc golf and fishing with the encouragement of his houseparents. He even competed in chute dogging at the Boys Ranch Rodeo. Chute dogging is the Boys Ranch version of steer wrestling and involves pulling a steer to the ground. The first time Jaay tried it was the first time he had ever touched a steer.
Every aspect of Boys Ranch helps Jaay thrive. He loves his chemistry and math teachers, who come up with fun teaching methods. He has made friends who share his outgoing nature.
Jaay has succeeded in sports, football, baseball and wrestling, with coaches who emphasize being a good person first and a good athlete second.
In 2022, the Boys Ranch High School Roughriders football team went to the playoffs for the second time in school history. Jaay led the team in tackles, and was named to the all-district first team for his work on the offensive and defensive lines.
Sharing Positivity With Others
“First, I want to start by giving all glory to God,” Jaay said. “I like just overall working as a team and the core values that we go through every week that coaches teach to us and putting us in the right position to excel and be great and set history.”
Being good at football puts Jaay in a position to help others. A younger boy at the ranch admired Jaay for his football prowess, and a houseparent approached Jaay about spending time with the younger boy and mentoring him.
“I felt honored,” Jaay said. “I had never been mentored before until I came to Boys Ranch. I thought it would be great to give another kid wisdom and help him out with his problems.”
Jaay and the boy spent an afternoon tossing a football back and forth, then talking.
“What I wanted to share with him was, ‘Life is gonna be hard, but the decisions you make are everything,’ ” Jaay said. “Because you can’t control other people. You can only control what you put into the world.”
Seeing God All Around Him
He told the boy that what people surround themselves with is what they receive in return, and positive companions bring people up.
Positivity is the kind of energy Jaay wants to put into the world.
“Coming to Boys Ranch, all the people around me and everything I do are influenced by God,” Jaay said. “I feel like I was seeking (God) at the beginning of this school year, and I feel like now I’m on the verge of wanting to get baptized.”
The chapel intern who serves Tunnell Home influenced him, Jaay said, and his houseparents and housemates have been the kind of positive people he wants around him.
Jaay loves to relax at his home, talking about sports and playing games while building relationships.
“I want to thank the donors for everything they do – probably even things I don’t know about,” Jaay said. “I want to thank them, because I don’t know what I’d be if it weren’t for Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch and the staff helping me better myself through chapel, finding my way with God and inspiring little kids and helping me be a better person. Thanks for helping every kid out here be great.”