For the second straight summer, thousands trekked to Dickson Street on Sunday to hurtle down a 1,000-foot water slide in support of Soldier On Service Dogs, a nonprofit organization that trains and places highly skilled assistance dogs with Northwest Arkansas veterans for free.
But unlike last year, when the event was organized through Utah-based company Slide the City, Soldier On were ensured more proceeds thanks to shouldering the brunt of organizing the event, according to Angie Pratt, founder and director of Soldier On.
"Do you hear that laughter," said Pratt, pointing to the legion of youngsters, teens and adults careening past the Dickson Street Bookshop and Bordinos Restaurant on inner tube. "We've got 250 volunteers running around here. If that's not community, I don't know what is."
While total proceeds weren't available Sunday, by 2 p.m. the Soldier On merchandise tent had exceeded sales from last year's event, said Denise Bembenek, event coordinator for Soldier On. Nearly 2,000 had already registered and attendance was picking up, Bembenek added. The event lasted from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- People got to experience Dickson Street Sunday (Aug. 29) by sliding down on a 1,000-foot water slide for a good cause.
Soldier On Service Dogs, a nonprofit that provides trained service dogs to veterans diagnosed with PTSD or a traumatic brain injury, organized the Dickson Street Slide after holding a similar fundraiser last year through a partnership with Slide the City.
Following the 2015 fundraiser, Soldier On Service Dogs purchased their own 1,000-foot slide, so the nonprofit can hold the Dickson Street Slide event every year.
Theron Lindenmuth, who had served in the Marines for eight years, received a service dog after suffering an arm injury three years ago, but said he was not ready for the challenge of having a service animal.
FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Soldiers On Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization based in Fayetteville that trains and provides service dogs to veterans who suffer from PTSD and/or traumatic brain injuries.
The dogs are trained for the owners' specific needs and are given to veterans free of charge.
"Tiger here was the first dog they gave away and I was the first veteran to get a dog," veteran Richard Ellett said.
Ellett suffers from PTSD and his doctor suggested he get a service dog. Two years ago when the organization started, he became Tiger's new owner.
The service dog helps Ellett get back up when he falls and makes sure he takes his medicine when he's supposed to. He said that he's able to go out and be with people more because of Tiger.
FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Dogs are commonly referred to as a man's best friend, and these animals are proving themselves when they take part in a local program that is offering companionship to military veterans.
There are 70,000 veterans in Northwest Arkansas, and roughly 14,000 of them have some form of PTSD, said Angie Pratt, founder and director of Soldier on Service Dogs, which provides trained dogs to veterans for free.
Five puppies are graduating today from their first year of training. Each dog takes about two years to train.
"If I fall down and I don't break anything, I roll over on my stomach and I call my dog and she stands right in front of me and she goes stiff as a board, and I push on her shoulders to stand up," said Richard Ellet, who's a veteran with a service dog named Tiger.
Many consider dogs to be man’s best friend. A Fayetteville nonprofit is training dogs to be even more for military veterans. Soldier ON Service Dogs provides fully trained dogs to veterans at no charge, focusing on those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or Traumatic Brain Injury.
“Many veterans with PTSD are quiet and ‘closed off,’” said SOSD marketing and event coordinating assistant Katelyn Feemster. “I can think of several who cautiously acknowledged me with little more than a nod the first time we met. A few months later, after being in our program, they would come up to me, give me a hug and talk my ear off. I would be caught off guard and check to make sure they were the veteran I thought they were. It’s awesome to see veterans become more open and happier. Our program works because not only do the dogs provide a sense of comfort, but veterans get to work with and help train our dogs so they act as a team. They find new confidence in themselves.”
PTSD/TBI service dogs can be trained to detect seizures, disrupt nightmares, call 911, reduce need for medication, relieve anxiety, reduce stress and save families’ and veterans’ lives.