*** This powerful essay was written by a Kids Booster named Abby. Abby and her sister, Riley, raised $2440 to benefit Rescue Me Georgia by hosting a “Hawks Dog Festival.” With Abby’s permission, we want to share her story in hopes of showing the behind the scenes of Kids Boost. It isn’t just about raising money… it’s about so much more! Thank you Abby for being brave, kind and generous. We have no doubt that you are changing the world!***
In 2016 more than 1.5 million dogs and cats were euthanized in the United States; remarkably that number has declined from 2.6 million just 5 years ago. My passion for helping dogs began when I was three years old. When all of my friends were worried about bubbles and crayons, I was obsessing over where my dogs (Harley) mom was. I asked my mom and in her typical ‘let’s turn this into a learning lesson’ style, she replied “how do you know Harley has a mom”? My response was, “Silly mommy, Harley has a belly button, which means he has a mom!” My mom was amazed at my logical thinking on this topic, so for the next few weeks we studied dogs and litters of dogs, and visited shelters, etc. I believe my mom thought she could submerse me in the subject and I would eventually move on to another, but here I am 10 years later still looking for answers. I finally got my answers about my dog and his umbilical cord; but something happened that day, when I was three years old….I realized that I have been blessed with an amazing mind, a heart for helping others and a passion for learning that will allow me to someday change the world.
My passion for dogs has never stopped growing, I quickly moved on from my one dog and his one belly button to hundreds of dogs as I began volunteering in the crazy world of Dog Rescue. Around my 8th birthday I decided that I didn’t need presents as much as the local dog shelters needed food and toys. So I asked my friends for donations instead of gifts and that day my life changed forever. My mom drove me to the local rescue group to deliver the goods and she told me that she had a surprise – she was letting me foster a puppy!! I swear it was the greatest day of my life!!! We actually came home with a litter of puppies that day – three to be exact. I loved those three puppies so much, but eventually they found their forever homes. Since then, I have fostered over 400 more puppies – and thankfully all of them have found amazing homes as well. That sounds like a HUGE number of dogs I’ve saved, right? Well it isn’t – remember that 1.5 million dogs and cats were euthanized last year. We have a saying in rescue – “Saving one dog will not change the world, but it will certainly change the world for that one dog”. I love that saying, it helps me remember that every little thing I do matters to someone…but seriously people, I am ready to change the world.
A few years ago I heard a contest on the radio for kids who want to help change the world; to enter you just had to write a short essay explaining your passion for a subject and your desire to help. My first thought was “yes!!! I want to change the world!!” and my second thought was “gross, writing an essay during the SUMMER?” My passion won and I wrote an essay explaining the world wide issue of stray and homeless dogs and my dream of becoming a biochemical engineer who will develop a mass vaccination process for dogs and cats. Whether it is by community water sources, a pill or a medical cream – giving stray and homeless dogs the gift of health will give them one less thing to worry about while they’re on their journey to being loved. Here’s the amazing part – I actually won!!! Kids Boost gave me $100, a wonderful coach named Brook, and the amazing opportunity of being on the Bert Show to gain support for my cause. This seemed like the greatest moment of my life; but then something awful happened. My dad left – just left. No explanation, no apologies, no second chances. My mom was a stay at home mom, so we could no longer afford our house and we had to move. Our friends and church brought us groceries all summer and my mom was so stressed trying to provide for my sister and I that we had to stop fostering dogs. My world crumbled that summer and I thought my life had ended. My mom has always taught me to focus on the positive and when you’re feeling sad, help someone else. So that’s what I did. I tried to forget about everything bad that was happening at home, and I focused on the dogs that needed me and Kids Boost who had taken a chance on me. My coach Brook turned out to be my guardian angel – she was tough, really tough – but she was always there when I needed her. She pushed me to work harder and to dream bigger. She coached me when I was on the radio and wanted to vomit, she texted me to tell me how amazing I am – she even helped my mom when my sister and I were driving her crazy. The morning The Bert Show aired my interview I knew my event was going to be successful. The community support was unbelievable – my friends and family were amazing of course. People I didn’t even know heard the passion in my voice and donated hundreds of dollars, and I even convinced the Atlanta Hawks to come to my event! It was epic. I was able to turn that $100 into nearly $3000 for homeless dogs. Kids Boost taught me so much that summer – that I’m stronger than I ever imagined, a kind person during a tough time makes all the difference in the world and with enough passion and dedication even a kid can make a BIG impact.
Salvador Dali once said “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings”. I think of this quote often and I believe that it summarizes my life perfectly. God blessed me with intelligence and wonder, and I’m incredibly lucky to have grown up with the experiences I’ve had – but without my determination and dedication, it would all be wasted. Seventh and Eighth grade have been tough time for me; I’ve missed a lot of school because of endless therapy sessions and court dates, but somehow I’ve managed to stay in all AP classes. My grades aren’t perfect; however I’m working hard to bring them up. Me, my mom and my sister Stinkbug are stronger and closer than we’ve ever been. Things are definitely looking up and I’m super excited to be a part of the Wheeler Magnet program where I will be surrounded by people who are as curious and passionate as I am. I can’t wait to work with peers who have had different experiences and different strengths than mine – imagine the all of the things we will discover!!! Seriously people, we are going to change the world!!