Nancy Thelan Scholarship
The First Nancy Thelan Scholarship Award Winner
Tatum is an amazing and talented young girl who has attended the Lead Changes Girls Youth camp for 3 years. She is recognized as the first Nancy Thelan Scholarship award winner for the 2022 summer session. The winner of this award each year is a young person who faces adversity or obstacles to success, someone who is trying and is open to working on themselves and has some financial need.
Tatum began riding at a young age, encouraged by her grandparents, in particular her grandmother. At the age of 8, she began showing through the local 4H chapter where she is still active today at the age of 16.
She attended her first year to the Girls Youth Camp a very shy and quiet young girl who held her head down without looking at you face to face. Tatum had horsemanship exposure but her shyness and lack of confidence held her back from being the best she could be. She was an intent listener to the coaching she received from Chris and the staff, but most importantly Tatum leaned how to believe in herself and gain her confidence in herself. Over the next several years, Tatum continued to grow through the youth camps, as well as clinics she was able to participate in through 4H and her local environment.
Today, Tatum, while still a little shy, holds her head high and reflects a girl that believes in her abilities and what she wants to accomplish. She works hard to be the best and continually works on herself, her skills and her confidence.
This last year, Tatum was instrumental in being an example to other/younger girls who came to camp with some of the same characteristics holding Tatum back several years before. She has kept in touch with many of the girls from prior camps she attended with and has built lasting relationships. Tatum is an inspiration. Her love and appreciation for the Cox Family, Nancy Thelan and the Board who have helped her grow each year is what makes her special.
Tatum recently qualified to go to 4H regional competition in GA where she did very well winning first in Ranch Trail (out of 64), second in Ranch Riding (out of 55) and other awards. Congratulation Tatum. You are the best.
The Cox Family and Board of Directors of Lead Changes is honored to recognize Nancy Thelen for her unwavering support to this organization and to the youth whose lives have been positively impacted through our programs.
Nancy grew up in Michigan in a subdivision outside Lansing. Her grandmother had a farm where Nancy spent a lot of her time and where she began her life-long love for the horse. At age 13, she and her sister saved enough money to buy their own horse and began their adventures. As Nancy grew up and began her own life, she went into dairy farming and did not have much time for horses but eventually bought a 3-year-old that she still has with her today (pictured) at age 21. His name is “Boy Am I Tari” alias “Ol’ Timer”.
Nancy became associated with Chris Cox and his wife Barb through Nancy’s sister who organized Chris Cox Tour stops. Her sister signed herself and Nancy up for a clinic Chris was holding in Texas. Nancy went to the clinic thinking she knew about horses but quickly learned how deficient her knowledge was. Her admiration for Chris and what he transfers in knowledge and leadership skills through his horsemanship clinics grew by leaps and bounds from there.
She attended more and more clinics and followed Chris throughout his growing career as a renowned horseman. She even joined her sister on Chris’s tours to help. Nancy will tell you, “If you want to learn, there is no better teacher and role model than Chris”.
It was on these tour stops that Chris encouraged Nancy to pick up her guitar and sing. Nancy practiced and practiced and even though she was terrified, through encouragement by Chris and others, she sang anytime she was asked, which was often. Today, she continues to learn and grow as a musical artist. Just ask her to sing you a song and she will delight you with her lovely voice, original lyrics, and musical talent.
When Chris and Barb founded Lead Changes, Nancy took her two granddaughters and two other girls to the first youth camp. Her granddaughter, Nettie, had a past experience that left her troubled, lacking confidence, and easily panicked. She was “scared to death” about the unknown of what she would be experiencing at this camp, but Chris assured Nancy he would change her life forever. And he did. She attended several camps the following years and grew her confidence exponentially. Nettie went from being easily panicked to today winning speech contests and having a very entrepreneurial spirit about her; in fact, she earned the nickname, Courage.
Nancy will tell you that when Chris speaks about the journey, it is much more than that, because it is filled with life lessons for all. She loves the Cox family and what they have accomplished. She is proud to be a part of this wonderful journey.
In honor of Nancy Thelen, Lead Changes is proud to recognize her by establishing the Nancy Thelen Scholarship. Each year, a boy or girl will be selected to receive a full scholarship to attend camp and experience a life changing opportunity that will never be forgotten. The young person who will be selected will be someone facing adversity or obstacles to success either external or internal, someone who is trying and is open to working on themselves and has some financial need.
Thank you again Nancy for your support and commitment to Lead Changes.