In April 2018, I am running the Boston Marathon to raise money for something that means the world to me – the Quincy Animal Shelter (QAS) in Quincy, MA. There are many great charities and non-profits out there that I support, but QAS has been an important part of my life for nearly a decade and with your support we can make this a truly amazing year for them. I will tell you a “tail” that will have you wagging in your seat. Please find it in your heart to donate. And don’t forget – a lot of employers will match employee donations, so ask and see if yours can double your contribution!
QAS is near and dear to my heart and will always be a special place for me no matter where I live. Almost 12 years ago, I adopted a five-year-old, deaf Dalmatian named Pongo from a shelter in my home town. Pongo was my inspiration to give back. He had spent most of his life in and out of the shelter. Pongo is a story that those of you that know me, know well.
So, I found a local shelter and applied to be a volunteer. I had no idea what was in store for me. QAS was a 100% volunteer run organization with a handful of dedicated people who worked hard to care for abused, neglected or surrendered animals. I was brought on to volunteer as dog walker a few hours a week. The more time I spent there the more I could see that everyone was pitching in far more than was asked; cleaning, organizing, updating, scooping, feeding, whatever needed to be done. I stepped up my game and over time joined the Canine Team and started to learn how to truly train dogs. And no, I couldn’t stop there, so I got involved with planning events and eventually joined the adoption team.
In 2011, Pongo got sick. In a matter of a few weeks, Pongo passed. It affected me much more deeply than I could have imaged. He had been such an important part of my life and we had been through so much together. I took a break from QAS, but after a while my amazingly supportive husband and I agreed it was time for me to get back to it and, coincidentally, they needed help with an event that I had helped grow years before. It wasn’t long before I was looking for other ways to contribute, and boy did I come back with a splash. Along with other great volunteers, we successfully planned and hosted the largest event QAS had ever had to date which included celebrity’s guests, MC’s and news coverage. About the same time, I was able to get multiple iPads donated and set up credit card processing which opened up a whole new way for people to donate to QAS at events in beyond the cash they had on them or visiting the paypal donation site.
I then requested to join, and was voted onto, the Board of Directors. The Board needed someone with a vision, someone to get them to the next level of being able to care for more animals. Everything from budgets to events to technology, everything needed fresh eyes.
Beyond the day-to-day projects and issues, the biggest, most important thing that needed to be addressed was the shelter itself. The building (and I use that word lightly) is a 30-year-old metal storage building well past its life span and with no room for growth or upgrades. QAS needed a new building. As if someone was listening right on time, in comes the Mayor of Quincy with a proposal for a shared space in a new city building with Quincy Animal control and Quincy Police K9 Unit. The plans started to come together for a new building. Architects stared the designs, requirements were gathered, and things were progressing. So many things were changing. Although the city is providing the space, QAS must pay for the rest: kennels, desks, chairs, refrigerator, etc. Everything that goes in the four walls.
To support the effort, in 2015 I had the opportunity to run the 2015 Boston Marathon to raise money for QAS. For those of you that know me, this was no small task. I trained for 8 months and fought through multiple injuries and thanks to my friends, family and QAS supporters, raised over $11,600!
While I gave it everything I had 2015, I was in way over my head and my race results weren’t what I wanted and the target to fundraising goal still had a long way to go. It’s been two years since that and I’m now focused on challenging myself to better my time and raise $20,000. Every workout I train, every mile I run, every nail I break is accomplishing a challenge to myself and a challenge to you to support me.
For those of you that have been involved in events like this, you know that you are required to raise a certain amount of money - and if you get to the finish line, good for you. This is different. This is personal. This isn’t’ about meeting the bare minimum. This is about knocking it out of the park, both for me and for QAS. And now for you. If you’ve read this far, you know this isn’t for “fun”. This is for a purpose. And I need your support – I can’t get there without it.
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More information about QAS can be found at www.quincyanimalshelter.org.