Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs at West Ridge Academy gala

By Nelda McAllister

Deseret News

Published: Saturday, April 17 2010 1:07 a.m. MDT

Read about how boys and girls who attend West Ridge Academy are there for different, difficult reasons on www.MormonTimes.com. You may also watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform at West Ridge Academy in this YouTube video.

WEST JORDAN — The Mormon Tabernacle Choir engaged guests at a fundraiser Friday as they sang a rousing round of "Rock-a-my-soul in the Bosom of Abraham" to help West Ridge Academy, a West Jordan youth rehabilitation boarding school, celebrate its objective of offering hope and healing to struggling young men and women.

West Ridge Academy, known as the Utah Boys Ranch until 2005, provides clinical services, education and other programs for teens, both girls and boys, that are identified as "at risk."

The choir was the featured entertainment at the academy's annual fund raising gala and dinner at Copper Hills High School, where Lt. Governor Greg Bell, on behalf of Governor Herbert, publicly commended West Ridge's endeavors.

"West Ridge is a special place where people in crisis have the chance to make life-saving changes. That's a real treasure and no one does it better than West Ridge," said Bell.

Robert Graham, board member of the George S. & Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, was also honored with the organization's Legacy of Hope Award.

More than 1,000 people attended the fundraising event, including all the current academy students and many alumni. Executive director Ken Allen said the gala fulfilled his dual purposes of bringing awareness to West Ridge's objectives and raising scholarship funds so that more families can benefit from its services.

"In the few hours we have been here tonight, I am sure, as is usual, that our phones are full of messages from parents asking for our help — parents whose kids are on the run or who are having substance abuse problems. We are here to help them with hope and healing."

"These people behind me," said Debi Gilmore, the academy's board chair, pointing to the choir "did not have to perform tonight. They are volunteers. The choir gets a lot of requests to perform each year so this tells you how important West Ridge is to them."

Until 2005 the Utah Boys Ranch was male-only. In early 2005 it opened new, separate facilities for girls and changed its name to West Ridge Academy.

The Utah Boys Ranch was founded by Lowell L. Bennion and a group of his associates in 1964. Since their founding, they have helped more than 25,000 teens.

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