Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Real American Heroes

From time to time I am truly, genuinely humbled, and I think I'm pretty amazing so that is saying something.  A few weeks ago I went to a Pig Roast fundraiser for the Madison Ferris Mobility Fund. Madi has MD, and in the past few years it has progressed to the point where it truly hinders her ability to get around.  Today I want to tell you about Rocket, but to do that I want to tell you about Madi first.


This is a picture of Madi and me a few months ago.

Madi can no longer drive a standard vehicle, and as I'm sure you can imagine, this has taken away a valuable part of her life, her independence. So she and her friends and family have been raising money to help Madi buy an accessible vehicle. One of their fundraisers was the sale of tshirts that say "I know Madison."

I was lucky enough to have Madi as a student in my English classes both her junior and senior year in high school.  In fact one of my favorite pictures of her is the one below, where she and Katrina are both wearing their Harry Potter shirts and posing by my Harry Potter posters.

She is now entering her senior year of college as a theater major.  Madison has never, ever let anything or anybody slow her down. I don't know where she gets her resolve from, but it is definitely something that both humbles and inspires me. However, her friends truly inspire me as well.

This is picture from Class Night 2010, with Madi and a few of her friends (and some old teachers too, lol). 

Do you recognize Meredith, Wiley's dog-sitter?  She's in the aqua dress.

 They work tirelessly with Madi to improve her quality of life, and I use the word "tirelessly" because I don't think it tires them out in the slightest. It brings them joy to help someone they love. And when we are having fun it rarely seems like work, right?

Which brings me to Rocket. Dogs don't view work the way we do because most of the work we ask of them they were bred to do. It makes them happy, or perhaps a better word is satisfied, to tire themselves out doing a job well.

Rocket's job is to be the official spokesdog of the Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA. We have mentioned this shelter before on the Rescue Dog Blog and featured some pets from there. Unfortunately they lost their dog kennels a few years ago in a fire (no dogs were hurt), and they have been fundraising tirelessly to restore their ability to take dogs in. Rocket, and Jim McKeone, have been on the forefront.

A few years ago in December, Rocket was found alongside a road, presumed dead.  But this pup. . . he was a fighter.

When I saw him at the Pig Roast, I was totally drawn in. A friend of mine, Jane, who worked for Jim years ago and knows him well, said to me, "He rescued that dog. Now he takes it all over to events and to schools and everything."  

My immediate response was "Can you introduce me?" BOL (BARK OUT LOUD). Readers, I'm turning into quite the investigative journalist. ;-)

Talking to Jim was a real pleasure. His eyes lit up as he told me Rocket's story. The vet who cared for  Rocket when he was first brought in, Dr. Mary Lombardo,  called Rocket her Christmas present because no one thought he would survive after being hit by a car and left on the road. 

Rocket and his story were featured on the local news, and nearly 100 people showed up to express an interest in adopting him.  Dr. Lombardo picked Jim, although she later told him it was actually Rocket who picked Jim. She said "You were the only one Rocket went to. He wanted you."

Awwwwwwww. If you read the blog regularly you know how I feel about animals being a part of our destiny.  Rocket was destined to live with Jim and his wife, who were the ones who picked the name Rocket in honor of NASCAR'S Ryan Newman, aka the Rocket, who is a big rescue advocate. 

 Rocket's eyes light up at every human he sees. Jim says Rocket loves to be in the middle of a circle of children, be it in a school or at the DuPont Children's Hospital, soaking up every second of attention.  

Can you imagine how these young kids feel when they see a happy dog like Rocket, not letting anything stand in his way of having fun and living life to the fullest? Can you understand why I was so humbled at Madi's fundraiser? I was surrounded by real-life heroes. Madi, her friends and family, Jim and his wife, and Rocket.

If you feel inspired after reading this, donate to your local shelter. Or donate to Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA to help them get the kennels ready to accept dogs. They are a no-kill shelter and Jim sits on their board of directors. If you want to donate to Madi's Mobility Fund feel free to email me at pabibliophile@gmail.com and I can tell you more.  And if you are ever anywhere near Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, treat yourself to the BEST STICKY BUNS on earth at Plain 'n Fancy Donut Shop. It's owned by Jim so you should most definitely patronize his establishment.

OH YEAH.  I forgot to tell you I won this at Madi's Pig Roast too!

There were all kinds of things to bid on. I stuffed all my tickets in the can for this and the one for a tattoo gift certificate. I won them both! I have never won a single thing in raffle-type events.  Most of this great doggie stuff will go to the local shelter because Wiley doesn't need it, but I am going to see if he likes the bed better than the one he has now. I'm just excited I won!

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