Ordinarily a center for service dogs in training, New Leash Hall at the Canine Companions campus in Ohio transformed into something even more magnificent in mid-June.
Nearly 200 guests traveled from surrounding states to attend the Sit. Stay. Sparkle Gala; the first of its kind at the recently opened campus in New Albany.
The goal? To raise $150,000 for Canine Companions in a mission to provide more service dogs to veterans, adults and children with disabilities. It wasn’t long before that goal was surpassed by donors eager to help empower and enhance the lives of Canine Companions clients.
Clients like Stefanie, who came from Kentucky to highlight the difference Service Dog Kaz has made in her life.
Stefanie was studying to receive her master’s degree and had her sights set on representing the United States Equestrian Team in the Olympics when she was injured in a non-horse related incident that left her paralyzed with no feeling from the collar bone down.
But Stefanie was strong. Through the trauma of her experience, she found Canine Companions and, with Kaz by her side, finished her master’s degree, won an award at the World Para-Driving Championships and moved across the country to study spinal cord research.
“So much has happened on this journey, and for me to be anything less than proud of myself today just wouldn’t be right,” said Stefanie. “We have accomplished so much. Kaz is not a dog to me. She’s not an ornament. She’s a part of my body, she is a part of my heart beat… she is a part of my soul.”
Ultimately, Sit. Stay. Sparkle raised more than $195,000 through support from donors, volunteers and graduates like Stefanie. The funds will help Canine Companions serve even more people.
“It’s become incredibly important to me that the message of what a service dog can do and how they can change, not only one person’s life, but the lives of people around them and the communities around them…” said Stefanie. “I want people’s lives to be touched by service dogs and by Canine Companions.”