Despite finding its long-awaited event canceled due to inclement weather, Canine Companions for Independence still succeeded in finding a way to surpass its fundraising goal of $50,000 for DogFest Walk ’n Roll in St. Charles.
As of Nov. 13, the group had raised $52,475, which will benefit the organization.
Even though lightning shut down the event Oct. 14, Pamela Kombrink, co-chairman of DogFest Illinois 2017 and volunteer puppy-raiser, said the spirit of the group remained high on that morning at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles.
“That morning, the sirens at the park kept going off for lightning,” Kombrink said. “But instead of hanging their heads, we got in the community building and contacted the sponsors and vendors. It was amazing because they said, ‘We are here to support you,’ and even asked about the next one.”
That gave the group the momentum to keep moving forward, she said.
“We kept the website open, and we had a lot of the raffle and silent auction prizes offered online,” she said.
Kombrink also said the event, which was held for the first time in the Tri-Cities area, gave the group a huge distinction in DogFest Illinois history – the recent DogFest effort was the first one in Illinois to have met and surpassed its goal without actually hosting an event.
“We are ecstatic,” Kombrink said. “Obviously, we couldn’t have done it without the community.”
The group raised enough to sponsor a graduate team, which includes the funding for breeding a service dog, the placement of the dog with a recipient, six to nine months of training for the dog, and bringing in the dog’s recipient for two weeks of training with the animal. It also includes funding various equipment and other needs during the lifetime of a service dog partnership.
Kombrink said the training for a service dog goes a long way toward helping the recipient and animal.
“When we train these puppies, we give them so much experience and love as well,” Kombrink said. “These puppies are unrivaled companionship.”
The dogs become invaluable in performing a multitude of tasks for individuals, according to Molly Schulz, public relations and marketing coordinator for the Canine Companions for Independence North Central Region.
“These dogs can perform over 40 tasks and commands,” Schulz said. “These dogs are really there to enhance independence for individuals.”
Although this year’s DogFest has just passed, Kombrink said, the event is already being planned for next year. She invited any organizations or individuals interested in supporting the next DogFest or Canine Companions for Independence – or becoming a puppy-raiser – to get involved by visiting cci.org.
“We hope the community will continue to support us and our mission to provide highly trained service dogs,” Kombrink said.