PICKENS COUNTY — Casey Frock may be just a junior at Pendleton High School, but it didn’t stop him from approaching the event staff in Clemson University Campus Recreation with an idea for the university community to support veterans during Memorial Day weekend.
Behind his vision, Campus Recreation will host an inaugural Puppies & Patriots 5K and Dog Walk Saturday, May 26. The event will begin in Jervey Meadows and take place alongside the beautiful backdrop of the dikes bordering Hartwell Lake.
A one-mile dog walk will be at 8:15 a.m. followed by the 5K at 9 a.m. Prior to May 26, participants may register at Race Roster by paying $15 for the dog walk, $25 for the 5K or $30 to take part in both. One-hundred percent of proceeds from the event will benefit Service Dogs for Veterans and Pets for Vets.
“It is my hope the Clemson University community will get behind this event by walking, running, volunteering time or donating financially to support our veterans and raise awareness about the great work of Service Dogs for Veterans,” Frock said.
Service Dogs for Veterans connects veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and similar illnesses with rescued shelter dogs in an eight-month program designed to change both lives for the better.
Ashley Johnson, a Clemson junior and U.S. Navy veteran who serves as vice president of the Student Veterans Association, has benefited during the 2017–18 academic year from the presence of a service dog — a poodle named Aubrey.
Johnson said she plans to take Aubrey on the one-mile walk next weekend.
“Service Dogs for Veterans is a life-saving organization,” Johnson said. “They take local shelter dogs who might not find homes and pair them with veterans who may have debilitating symptoms and they give their lives back to them.
“Before I had Aubrey, going to school every day was difficult. I had panic attacks walking into class. I left the classroom when it was too much. Now I don’t deal with any of that. She goes with me to class every day and I don’t have days where I feel I can’t do it anymore.”
Kelly Ator, director of external relations for Campus Recreation, said the event provides a unique opportunity to engage students, faculty, staff and the community in a healthy, social activity.
“Puppies and Patriots is just one of the Memorial Day Weekend festivities taking place in the community,” she said. “Facilitating events mutually beneficial to the university and city helps create a sense of community and support Clemson’s town-gown relationship. We are happy to support our student veterans and their ‘puppies’ in this inaugural event.”
For more information on the Puppies & Patriots 5K, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Philip Sikes at 864-656-3373.