All About Alicia

A fifteen year old, standing in her kitchen, pondering the future is where it all began...

I wasn’t your typical, young girl. Some may say I was an old soul, which is why, in my early teens I couldn’t help but wonder what God’s purpose was for my life.  Raised in a Christian family, my young mind understood that in order to serve the Kingdom, I had to be a missionary.  I had worked in missions, some, but for it to be a full time calling, I didn’t have peace.  I was born and raised the first twelve years of my life in Sarasota, Florida.  Our home was on the Gulf of Mexico and that is where my love affair with the ocean and aquatic mammals took off.  However, that part of the story will be for a later time in this bio.  { Back to my home for now. }

A banyan tree resided in my neighbors yard and I remember distinctly, daily, climbing its thick, hardy limbs to my favorite spot.  It was a view like non other. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Picture this, the sun glistening on the still waters as if gold was dancing on its currents.  I could see the dolphins and manatees perfectly up there.  That special tree is also where I would talk to God and tell Him about my day. From the ribbons I wore in my hair to my new friends that I made at school.  Anything and everything that little mind of mine could think of.  God got an ear full.   

1996 was a big year for the Burcham family.  It is when my father and mother decided it best to come to Franklin, TN and they couldn’t have been more right.  

Let’s get back to the kitchen (mentioned above) now, shall we?

I was still fifteen, still pondering, watching Discovery channel and then it happened! On the screen, they were showcasing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).  I had never heard of such a thing, so I watched intently.  I saw a child with down syndrome a woman standing on a dock, both wearing life vests and staring at empty waters.  I couldn’t fathom what was about to occur.  All of a sudden, a dolphin popped out of the water! And when I saw that childs smile! I knew, right then and there that AAT is what I needed to do too!  I loved animals (especially dolphins), people, children, the outdoors, the water… it all seemed too good to be true.  Also, my young heart was put at ease choosing AAT as my purpose due to my favorite Saint, St. Francis of Assisi’s quote, “Evangelize in everything that you do and when necessary, use words.”

My AAT journey begin right away, after seeing that!  I started working with Special Olympics, then began volunteering at Saddle up!  At the age of 17, I lived in Honolulu, HI and worked at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory specializing in dolphin and whale research.  There, I also trained dolphins that were known as the “Harvard Dolphins of The World.” I had to learn over 100 different sign languages to wok alongside of these amazing creatures and National Geographic even came out to film them one day! 

I received my college degree at Pepperdine University in Child Clinical Psychology and right before graduating was able to actually work In DAT (dolphin assisted therapy ) in Key Largo, FL at Island Dolphin Care.

After graduation, I had a choice to move somewhere with water to work in DAT or come home to my family and continue working in EAT (equine assisted therapy).  Being quite the family girl that I am, I chose to come home. In 2007, I became a certified NARHA (North American riding for the Handicap association ) instructor which is known today as PATH (professional association of therapeutic horsemanship).  I have over 23 years experience in the special needs field and 15 years certified in the field.

I love what I do and what God lead and placed right before my fifteen year old eyes that day.

Ten years ago, September of 2012, Kindred Spirits become reality, a 501c3 and a dream come true for me!