Surrendered to the state by his drug-addicted parents, Garth Hystad grew up in a series of foster homes.
"I always had holidays at a different place. I never really knew the people I had Christmas or Thanksgiving with," said Hystad, a Colorado Springs-based custom builder who helms his own DIY Network show, "Mega Decks."
Hystad's two younger sisters were adopted. He never was. In fifth grade, he parlayed a classmate's gift of a stick of chewing gum into a schoolyard industry selling treats for pocket cash. By the time he was 20, he'd turned that entrepreneurial bent - and a skill at woodworking - to building. Today, Hystad's a cable TV star whose company, Colorado Custom Decks and Mosaic Outdoor Living, did an estimated $12 million in business in 2015.
"My pain as a child ... really opened the door for me as an adult to make that pain something beautiful," said Hystad, who is filming Season 2 of the show.
In addition to being a builder and reality TV personality, Hystad is a decorated rider on the competitive horse reining circuit. He's donated more than $40,000 collected from recent winnings and supporters' donations to the Palmer Lake-based ministry Beautiful Redemption. Founded in late 2015 by Mike and Leesa Worley, the nonprofit focuses on raising awareness about foster and adoptable children in Colorado, specifically through advocacy and outreach to churches, community groups and businesses.
"There are so many good people out there that still want to parent, and there's such a great need," said Hystad, whose current campaign aims to bring in $100,000 for the ministry.
The Worleys' experiences adopting three children from foster care - as well as their friendship with Hystad - inspired their current work as "pastoral advocates for the fatherless," Mike Worley said.
"There's a quote we use: 'To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world,'" he said. "We believe every child is precious and beautiful and every story can be redeemed."
Before starting Beautiful Redemption, Worley was the founding pastor of The Gathering in Colorado Springs and spent 10 years on the pastoral staff of Woodmen Valley Chapel.
"In El Paso County, there are approximately between 100 and 200 children in foster care who are up for adoption. Most are over the age of 12. Our goal is to see that number go down to zero and to have a bunch of families on a waiting list," he said.
Adoption from foster care isn't expensive; any fees incurred often are reimbursable. Parents must be 21 or older, but can be single or married, living in a home or apartment, with experience raising kids or brand new to the job.
"Not everyone's going to become a foster parent or adopt, but all of us can do something. That's what we try to help with, finding out what that something is," Worley said.