Sampson — Service

Sponsor: Lulu's Fund
Location: Foosland, Illinois

In 2006, an accident left 23-broken bones and a TBI. A survivor of childhood abuse and an 18-year abusive marriage, I had invisible scars that the darkness of PTSD exploited. I lost everything that had meaning until I met Sampson through Paws Giving Independence, and with his “this is the best day ever” attitude, instead of choosing suicide, I went to college to study Neuroscience hoping to help others with PTSD/TBI. Sam has been my strength as a service dog in a field filled with barriers. He is the first service dog to gain access to most academic, and research laboratories at the U of I. With Sam as the ambassador for service dogs in academics, we have promoted policy change nationwide, stood up to discrimination, bureaucracy, and closed-door committees on university campuses, spoken to dozens of organizations, brought international attention to help end discrimination in academics, taken legal steps to end disability discrimination in science, gained the support of international biosecurity officials, assisted in the development of training protocol for university faculty on service dog etiquette, and helped develop a non-profit organization to assist scientists with disabilities: International Alliance for Ability in Science. Sam and I have work ahead of us. One paw print at a time, walking with the canine miracle that saved my life, I can look behind us now without seeing only ghosts and shadows; I see positive change.

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