photo by Dan Andrews.
Helen Ross McNabb Center’s Carletta Smelcer, Children and Youth Services Coordinator and Kristin Bradley, Prevention and Early Intervention Services give Chase Allen, Business Development Manager at Asheville Distilling Company, and Troy Ball, Founder/CEO of Asheville Distilling Company, a tour of the Center’s Children and Youth facility.

By Tasha Mahurin

“I had to be a full time mom when my children were young. I had to say: ‘It’s okay Troy, your time will come,’ and find a way to be okay with that,” Troy Ball said in an interview last year with CBS This Morning.

Troy Ball’s time did come when she moved her family of five to the mountains of Western North Carolina in search of a healthier lifestyle.

“If the locals like you, they bring you moonshine,” she explained later in the same interview.

One taste of homebrew, and Ball was immediately taken with the idea of creating her own. There was just one small problem. Although, Prohibition ended over 80 years ago, it is illegal to manufacture alcohol without a permit. She was able to wrestle one away from the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and Troy & Sons, the only woman owned and operated whiskey distillery in the country, was born.

Ball has been called a “force of nature”, which those who know her maintain is a real polite way of saying she’ll fight through any obstacle to achieve her goal. Her oldest son, Marshall Ball, is non-verbal and confined to a wheelchair. Despite his challenges, he has published two books, Kiss of God (translated into five languages) and A Good Kiss. Marshall appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1999 and 2000. Coulton, her second son, is also non-verbal and is confined to a wheelchair and lives with autism. Her third son, Luke, was adopted into the Ball family. Determination runs as deep in this family as the Appalachian culture in which they have immersed themselves.

Troy Ball was in Knoxville last week to visit the Helen Ross McNabb’s Center for Youth and Family. Ball’s interest in the services provided by the Helen Ross McNabb Center is spurred by her own life experiences with her children.

After all, Troy & Sons is nothing if not a family-centered operation. Ball’s husband, Charlie, actually designed their distillery and also oversees the distilling process. Their youngest son, Luke, is also involved. He has been known to offer both solicited and unsolicited advice and is quite talented with the microwave which he frequently serves family dinner from.

“We are thrilled to be working with and supporting an organization  like Helen Ross McNabb Center, an organization needed to make our communities stronger,” stated Ball.

Also, understanding the challenges parents face when caring for children with disabilities, Ball was eager to learn more about services provided at the Helen Ross McNabb Center’s Children and Youth facility.  The facility serves children who face a variety of challenges that include but are not limited to trauma, serious emotional disturbances and/or intellectual development disabilities.