the torch Spring 2015, Issue 1 - Page 7

Rendering of the Jan Rees-Jones Canine Center At the board meeting, Retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Morgan, shared his personal testimony on the impact of his canine companions. In 1999, 10 years after enlisting in the Air Force, Jason was deployed to South America on a narcotics mission along the Columbia-Ecuador border. While providing security for two soldiers, their SUV flipped and crashed down a cliff. Jason was ejected as the SUV rolled over him. Unable to move, he had a broken back and numerous internal injuries and spent three and a half years in the hospital. In 2009, Jason was partnered with Service Dog Napal, a black Labrador trained by Canine Companions for Independence.  “It’s hard to get back on your feet when your feet don’t work,” said Jason. “Having a companion like Napal made a real difference on both my physical and emotional rehabilitation. Once I had Napal, I was no longer the guy in the wheelchair; I was the guy with the cool dog. It opened up so many doors for me and enhanced my life in so many unexpected ways.” The Kinkeade Campus is a training facility for dogs beginning at 18 months of age. It is also a training facility for the clients who will be matched with assistance dogs. At the Kinkeade Campus, three types of assistance dogs will be trained to master more than 40 specialized commands. Service Dogs assist adults with physical disabilities by performing everyday functions like turning on lights, picking up dropped keys or opening a door; Skilled Companions enhance independence for children and adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities; and Facility Dogs work with a professional in visitation, education, criminal justice or health care setting. The average cost to breed and train each assistance dog is $50,000, and assistance dogs are provided free of charge to individuals. In order to provide this service to the community, the Foundation is seeking community support to cover capital and operating costs for the construction and maintenance of the Kinkeade Campus. To date, more than $3.5 million has been raised in support of this program. For more information on Canine Companions for Independence at Baylor Scott & White Health – Kinkeade Campus, please contact Sarah Burdi at 214.820.4721 or Sarah. Burdi@BaylorHealth.edu. Retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Morgan’s service dog Rue 7