Darren Hamrick is a Team Leader in our [...]
About eight years ago while looking for an activity to do with my American Bulldog Mable, I came across the Hand in Paw Animal Assisted Therapy website. As I started reading I quickly realized that while my puppy was probably not going to be the best fit, I still wanted to be involved with the work they do.
Hand in Paw was founded in 1996, and today it serves Jefferson, Shelby and Tuscaloosa counties by helping to improve the health and well-being of children and adults through interactions with professionally-trained Animal-Assisted Therapy Teams. With more than 120 teams serving more than 60 facilities, such as Children’s Hospital, The Bell Center for Early Prevention and Ronald McDonald House, the true impact Hand in Paw has on people’s lives cannot be described with words.
Think about a child who’s in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy. In the middle of the scary and traumatic time, a dog and its handler appear. In that moment, even with tubes, masks and other equipment strapped to the child, the fear, worry and anxiety seems to fade away! For that brief second they have a normal child reaction.
It is moments like this that have made the past seven years I have served on Hand In Paw’s Board of Directors a truly great experience. As a board, we have focused on securing resources, assessing the needs of Hand in Paw and bringing awareness to the organization.
One event that accomplishes all of these things is the Mutt Strut Dog Friendly 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run. This event is sponsored by Hand in Paw’s Junior Board and is now in its fifth year. In the past, I’ve been involved in the logistics and engineering for the race due to my professional experience working for Sain Associates. I’ve loved lending my expertise to help work with city officials, obtain necessary permits, coordinate to have roads blocked off, etc., but I am excited to participate in a different way this year. It’s the first year Mable and I get to run in the race! This year’s race will be held at the UAB Campus Green on Saturday, April 26, 2014. (Register Here!)
We have been thrilled to see the growth of the event, which included 800 runners last year. We’re hoping to have more than 1,000 participate this year.
As I enter my last year on the board, I am not sad but instead excited. Though I won’t be on the board anymore, I am excited to continue volunteering with this wonderful organization in new and different ways.
Learn more in this video: