PAWS FOR THE CAUSE
KAM to Present Music-Filled Fundraiser Benefitting Smoky Mountain Service Dogs
Academy Director Jeff Comas Gives Personal Testimonial for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs and Why He Chose That Organization as KAM’s Charitable Give-Back Partner
“One day, not too long ago, I was attending a veterans’ event with my wife, Laura (who served in the US army for eight years). We were having lunch with county mayor, Tim Burchett, when a woman approached with a service dog. She introduced herself and Hooligan (who I would later find out is “the ambassador dog” to the mayor), and said she was with Smoky Mountain Service Dogs (SMSD). Tim enthusiastically told her that he knew about the organization, and that he was very supportive of their cause, and had even done work to help them get established.
Mayor Burchett’s enthusiasm triggered a thought in my mind. It happens that our business had been looking for a locally based charitable organization to work with. So, I started asking a few questions about the organization and exactly what they did. I found out that they provided service dogs for wounded veterans. I decided to get contact information.
I spoke with SMSD chairman Mike Kitchens, and expressed interest in helping. Shortly thereafter I received an invitation to a “Passing of the Leash” ceremony. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get an up-close look at SMSD.
At the ceremony, I saw US Army Specialist Jason Erhart be united with his service dog, Freedom. Afterwards I had a chance to speak with a few of the other SMSD recipients – US Army veteran Chad, his wife, and his dog Brice; Special Forces vet. David and his dog, Jet; and US Marine Sergeant Brad Walker and his dog, Bella.
What I learned was incredibly moving, and touched me on a deep emotional level. These people have paid a high price to protect the freedoms you and I enjoy every day. They came home with severe injuries, and memories of war and combat. They struggle with what were once easy tasks and often become withdrawn from society, their friends, and even their families. All three of the vets I spoke with agreed, the dogs do amazing things to help them with their physical limitations, but even more importantly the dogs become ultra-reliable friends, who help them reintegrate into everyday life.
It became clear to me that I had found a truly worthy cause. That’s why the Knoxville Academy of Music is putting on a fundraising extravaganza called Paws for the Cause to benefit Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.”
– Jeff Comas, Director
Knoxville Academy of Music
Paws for the Cause will be held on Sunday, April 2nd (1-4pm), at Wild Wing Cafe. There will be live music by Steve Rutledge and the Groove Evolution (with special guests), area celebrities, a visit from Hooligan the Ambassador Dog, and a silent auction with some awesome items on the block.