#31Mothers: Heidi
May 9, 2017
My name is Heidi Ganahl. A lot of folks know me as an entrepreneur and the founder of Camp Bow Wow, or more recently, Regent-At-Large at The University of Colorado. But most people don’t know that along with my passion for dogs, I have a driving passion for my family, for our country, and for […]

My name is Heidi Ganahl. A lot of folks know me as an entrepreneur and the founder of Camp Bow Wow, or more recently, Regent-At-Large at The University of Colorado. But most people don’t know that along with my passion for dogs, I have a driving passion for my family, for our country, and for preserving our kids’ future.

I was fortunate to have grown up in a happy family – they have always supported me and encouraged me to live by my favorite quote, which happens to be by Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

I’ve taken that to heart in my business ventures, my personal relationships, my family life, and my investment in my community. I have lived by those words as I became a mom for the first time, and the second, third, and fourth times.  And I have lived by those words as I dealt with the most difficult trauma to face my own family – my oldest daughter in particular.

My daughter was in the middle of her senior year of high school when she was sexually assaulted by a popular friend of hers who she’d known for years.

That wasn’t supposed to happen to my daughter, to my family, in America’s top rated community – Louisville, Colorado.  But it did happen. And it’s happening everywhere, to girls and women of every age and every social strata.

In the months following the assault, when she was supposed to be enjoying her role as lead in the school musical, or her nomination for prom court, she was victimized all over again. Our family trusted that the local law enforcement would make things “right,” and would hold accountable the young man who violated my daughter. We believed they would do what was needed to keep him from violating another girl. That’s what we teach our kids – that the bad guys get caught and punished for breaking the law, for hurting us, for violating the trust of an innocent girl and an entire community.

Unbelievably, the case never even went to trial even though he admitted what he had done in a rambling text message to my daughter. We did everything “right” as far as reporting the crime and cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

The current Boulder D.A., the Boulder sheriff investigating, and the people up the chain of command let all of us down, but of course it was my daughter who was the most dejected by the experience. Even the top-ranked Boulder High School didn’t do what it was supposed to. The whole system let us down. The system lets all of our teens down.

Ninety-eight percent of rapists will NEVER spend a single day in jail. And DAs are deciding not to press charges in many cases because these cases are “hard to prosecute”.

I was naive before all of this happened… I had no idea our children were so at risk, and that so little was being done to deal with it and protect them.

My daughter asked the DA, “Why didn’t you stand up for me?”

The DA wrote a letter of apology admitting how badly the case was managed and promised to set things “right” for future cases. He has avoided our calls and emails since then, as we’ve tried to find out how he’s keeping this from happening again in our community.

Silence- from a leader employed by us. From a leader paid by us, the taxpayers, to protect our kids and keep us safe. An elected official.

This really shook me up. It caused me to lose all faith in those there to protect us. It made me look closely at our government’s role, at society’s role – and at our role as parents in raising our children.

So I started to ask myself: Who cares about our kids? As a mom, the answers I landed on terrified me. That was when I KNEW I had to ‘be the change’ in a major way.

So, I started Moms Fight Back.

Moms Fight Back is a movement of powerful, connected and passionate Colorado moms fighting back for safer, healthier, freer families. Moms are brave enough and committed enough to tackle the tough issues our kids face today.

After my daughter’s assault, I simply couldn’t find the serious help and tough advice I needed on the mom sites that were out there. I decided I needed to create the “go-to resource” for mothers dealing with their children’s most difficult issues.

Moms Fight Back creates systems, resources, and tools so moms can tackle the issues they see impacting their kids every single day and start creating positive change. We aim to inform, engage, encourage, and empower moms – and help them create the community and the tools to get it done in their own neighborhoods and schools.

As moms, we may not be soldiers on the front lines, but we are soldiers nonetheless, fighting for our children’s lives; fighting to keep our kids healthy, sane, happy, safe in a world that is always changing, always challenging, and sometimes scary.

Moms Fight Back is about helping real moms dealing with real problems. Together we find ways to finally address the issues that are impacting our kids, our families, and our communities. After all, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world!

Moms Fight Back helps moms change the world in 5 minutes a day with our Fight Back in 5 campaign. Anyone can text the word MOMS to 72345 to sign up for text messages each week with information about causes you can lend support to, an issue that needs your voice, or a way you can make your community, school, and even your home a better place for your children.

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Saralyn Ward is an award-winning writer, wellness advocate, and mountain mama. She is the founder of The Mama Sagas, writes for several publications and hosts a regular parenting TV segment on Colorado's Everyday Show. When she's not huddled over edits, you're likely to find Saralyn climbing peaks or skiing down them, and reminding herself that the two little girls that call her mom are not the boss of her.

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