Slip-n-slide supports canine cause
Taking a trip down a 1,000-foot slip-n-slide on Dickson Street this Sunday could help a veteran suffering from PTSD get the furry, four-legged companion he needs to help him readjust to society.
The nonprofit Soldier On Service Dogs works to provide fully trained service dogs to area veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. These specially trained dogs can detect seizures, disrupt nightmares, remind the veteran to take medication, offer balance support, but perhaps most importantly, give the veteran purpose and help reduce his anxiety.
“I got to witness a miracle. And I never thought those words would come out of my mouth, but I did,” shares organization founder Angie Pratt. “One of our veterans who has a dog, [was] in a wheelchair. He is in a lot of pain that never goes away. And a few months ago, he walked through our front door and proceeded to hop around the room on one foot and throw a ball to his dog. Now, did we do everything [to lead to] that? No. The gentleman lost 50 pounds, he got off almost all the medication the VA had put him on — he did the things he needed to do to change his life. [But] part of the impetus was the fact that his dog gave him purpose and helped him with many of the symptoms of PTSD. If that’s not a miracle, I really honestly don’t know what one is.”
Now in its (sort of) third year — the first event was in partnership with the for-profit business Slide the City — Dickson Street Slide has become Soldier On’s biggest fundraiser and provides more than 10 percent of its annual budget. By removing the outside partnership, Soldier On is now able to keep even more of the profits from the one-day event, which all go back into daily operations as well as the estimated $40,000-$45,000 that goes into training and raising each dog.
“It’s a two-year process for us — we spend over 1,800 hours per dog in training,” Pratt reveals. “We talk in terms of it’s got to be good for the dog: if the dog is fearful or anxious, it’s no good for the dog. It’s got to be good for the veteran: if the dog is misbehaving, it’s not good for the veteran. If the dog is not perfect, then it’s not good for our community. It is a much more complex process than I ever thought [before].”
As a reflection of Soldier On’s focus on community, this year’s vendor space in the Walton Arts Center parking lot is called Community Vendor Village and is free and open to the public, along with the KidZone. Some 55 booths with food, information, activities and music will be on hand to support the organization.
Dickson Street Slide
WHEN — 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
WHERE — From Collier’s Drug Store to the Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street in Fayetteville
COST — Triple slide $25; unlimited slides $40
INFO — dicksonstreetslide.com, soldieronservicedogs.org
Soldier On is competing for a $25,000 grant from State Farm in a popular vote contest through Friday. Every voter can assign 10 votes per day to Soldier On to increase the organization’s chances of winning, all without opening a wallet. The blue banner at the top of the Soldier On website goes directly to the voting page.