Payson's Woman Of The Year


If the measure of true class is being a person who helps others who can't do a thing in return, then this year's Woman of the Year, Diane T. Reid exemplifies that class.

The founder of Whispering Hope Ranch has put her time and money into developing a sanctuary where disabled animals interact with special-needs children and the elderly.


Diane Reid is described by family, friends and co-workers as a spiritual woman who lives her life in the moment, finding joy in the eyes of a child or in the kiss of a llama.

Imagine being a child who, because of the time and energy spent on their medical regimen, has never collected pine cones from the forest floor, or taken a bite out of an apple picked right off the tree.

These children, who have never been up close to an exotic animal, squeal with delight at the feel of soft llama fur under their fingertips, then later, they weave a bracelet out of llama hair.

Whispering Hope Ranch is a place where an elderly adult who is wheelchair-bound might go on a field trip to smell the meadow flowers while watching a young horse with deformed feet, buck and play in a field.

According to her daughter Wendy Terian, in 1996, Reid was looking for property to keep her mare, which was in need of tender loving care. About the time Reid found the ranch, she also discovered the mare was pregnant.

Reid's impetus for providing a home where abandoned, abused and neglected animals could interact in a loving, healing environment with disabled humans was born.

When the foal was born, his hooves were not growing properly and he was not expected to live. Reid put bags on his feet and took special care of him and today he is one of many happily rescued animals who have been given a new life.

When Reid was raising her family, her attitude toward critters was slightly different. Her son, Billy Barnhart, laughed as he related the time he found a rattlesnake in the front yard.

"She freaked out, ‘It's dangerous!' and killed the snake. She would never do that now."

A tradesman wanted to fumigate a nest of hornets he had found while working on Reid's home. Terian said that her mom told the tradesman not to harm the insects, just to ask them to leave. The tradesman left.

Reid then asked the hornets to leave. They did. Ants and spiders and other critters who belong out of doors have also walked out on their little feet when asked to by Reid.

Reid grew up on a ranch in the Midwest where they raised livestock. Reid was independent from an early age and possessed a head for business, but was never one of those people who was entirely driven by money.

"She always saw the bigger picture and she always had a side of her that believed in a greater kinder spiritual good, but not really to the extent she has now," Barnhart said.

He believes that his mother saw the property and decided since she had the wherewithal to take care of her needs that this is what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

Local Rim country residents with and without special needs have been able to visit Whispering Hope Ranch and participate in the therapeutic animal-assisted programs offered.

"She doesn't have to do this, she could be on a cruise, but she stays here and helps these animals and these children. She's pretty selfless when it comes to that," Charles Motley said. Motley works as a kind of horse whisperer on the ranch.

Terry Weisser has worked at Whispering Hope for the past four and a half years.

"Diane is one of the most pleasant, understanding persons I have encountered. She is very spiritual and lives in the moment.

"I feel like I don't work for her, I work with her."

In 2001 numerous Children's Health Organizations, representing about 17,000 children, formed a coalition with the Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation to address the need for and subsequently build a camp and retreat facility that will provide for the unique and often-complex needs of physically and developmentally challenged children.

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