Columnist

Veterans getting a little help from some PAALS

brantin@thestate.comApril 8, 2013 

PAALS training dog Casper presses a handicap access door opening button to open the door for his client, Dori Tempio.

PALMETTO ANIMAL ASSISTED LIFE SERVICES

Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services has launched its Veterans’ Important PAALS program and is seeking interested local active-duty military members and veterans who need assistance dogs.

The program offers qualified rescue dogs that are trained by PAALS members for service members and veterans who need a safe, loyal and well-behaved companion.

Two dogs are available for immediate placement and more will become available on a regular basis. The animals are provided free.

PAALS routinely places service dogs with soldiers and veterans who have combat-related injuries, but some of the dogs in training do not meet all of the requirements to be full-fledged service dogs. The V.I.P. program was created to place these dogs with veterans.

PAALS does not receive government funding and relies on volunteers and private donations. Each service dog costs between $22,000 and $29,000 to train, based on specific client needs.

To apply for a V.I.P. dog or to donate to PAALS, visit the agency’s website at paals.org.

Celebrating sound

Seven Columbia area Sertoma Clubs are encouraging area residents to step up for hearing health April 27 at Saluda Shoals Park.

The 2½-mile Celebrate Sound walk is part of a national movement to raise funds and awareness for hearing health.

A portion of the proceeds will help fund Sertoma’s national hearing health mission projects including college scholarships for hard-of-hearing and deaf students and those pursuing graduate studies in speech-language pathology or audiology. The remaining funds will support the charitable activities of the Midlands Sertoma Clubs such as Camp Sertoma South Carolina, which provides opportunities for 240 disadvantaged or hearing- and speech-impaired children each summer.

The sponsoring Sertoma clubs include Columbia, Richland, West Columbia-Cayce, Northlake, Lexington, St. Andrews, and Wade Hampton.

The April 27 walk begins at 9:30 a.m., with registration at 8:30 a.m. Former University of South Carolina basketball player Jamel Bradley, who has personal experience with hearing loss, will be the morning’s special guest and honorary walk starter. Parking is free and there will be a free shuttle service from the Corner Stone Presbyterian Church.

The registration fee is $20 for each walker age 12 and older, and walkers can register online or on site the day of the race. Children younger than 12 walk free.

To register or for more information, visit www.mycelebratesound.com/columbia or call Jean Teal at (803) 794-4341.

Music for the family

Tickets are on sale for a April 28 benefit concert for Family Connections.

South Carolina singer/songwriter Edwin McCain will perform at the concert for the agency that supports families of children with special needs.

The concert begins at 6 p.m. at The Hall at Senate’s End, 320 Senate St., Columbia.

The event will include heavy hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and a silent auction featuring a guitar signed by McCain, destination vacation packages, sports memorabilia and concert tickets. WCOS-FM’s morning team of Jonathon Rush and Kelly Nash will serve as event hosts.

“We are passionate about providing families in South Carolina who have children with special needs with the resources and support they need and deserve,” said Family Connection’s executive director Jackie Richards. “This concert will help us continue to do just that. Our staff and families are so appreciative of Edwin McCain for his kindness and support.”

Tickets to the benefit are $75, and only 400 will be sold. To purchase tickets, visit familyconnectionSC.org or call (803) 252-0914.

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