Karen Lohr & Sasha

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My name is Karen and I live in Storrs, CT. I have been dependent on a wheelchair for mobility for the past four years. I was been diagnosed with a progressive neuro-muscular disease that resulted in neuropathy and partial paralysis.I did my best to remain very active, including playing sled hockey for a team in Arizona and also on the USA Women’s National team.

I moved to Connecticut two years ago for a job opportunity at UConn and to continue playing sled hockey with the CT Wolfpack and the Women’s National team. In January 2012, barely 6 months after moving to CT, I found myself in the hospital with paralysis from the shoulders down. After spending over 12 weeks in the hospital, nursing home, and rehab hospital, I learned I had a herniated disc in my neck that had pushed on my spinal cord causing the new damage and paralysis.

Realizing my need for independence and wanting to still live alone as well as keep my job at UConn I decided to apply to the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS). I’ve missed almost 11 months of work in the past 2 years due to medical complications from the neck injury and have re-learned how to feed & dress myself, push my wheelchair, drive a modified van, and much more.

While I may not be able to play sled hockey anymore, I am still as active as possible and look forward to working with a service dog. A service dog will be my constant companion and allow me to “work smarter, not harder”. The dog will be my hands and feet allowing me to remain independent and safe by picking up objects I drop, fetching the phone in emergencies, opening doors, and so much more.

As part of a service dog commitment, I have been asked to help with fundraising efforts to defray the costs of the dog’s specialized training. Each dog is trained to meet the specific requirements of his or her future partner. The cost to train a service dog to assist me exceeds $25,000, and my goal is $9,500. Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation to help defray the costs of the specialized training? Gifts of any size would be appreciated.

Thanks for your consideration,