Canine Companions For Independence Graduation At Kinkeade Campus Changed Lives For Both Humans And Their New BFF

Linda and Terrence Marler

May is filled with graduations and that applies to pooches as well as youngsters. On Friday, May 5, Canine Companions for Independence held a graduation ceremony at its Canine Companions for Independence Kinkeade Campus at the Baylor Scott and White Health facilities in Irving. It was overflowing with humans like Jan Rees-Jones with Susan McSherry, Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy Coordinator Linda Marler and her husband Terrence Marler as well as four-legged types.

Before the graduation took place, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade, who had been the driving force for Texas’ only CCI, teased new Baylor Scott and White CEO Jim Hinton, who had just recently arrived in North Texas from New Mexico: “When Jim first got here, he asked me what are those green objects. I told him, ‘Jim, I know you’re from New Mexico, but those are trees. We have a lot of those here.’ ”

Jim and Kristen Hinton and Ed Kinkeade

Following Ed, Jim told the crowd, “I love my wife first, I love my dogs second and I love my kids third and I’m completely unapologetic about that.”

Despite the Hinton dogs still living for the time being in New Mexico, Jim confessed that he does Facetime with them. “The good news is that they recognize my voice and I’m still a little bit of a wag. I miss those dogs terribly. To me this effort is a convergence of two things that I am passionate about: one is dogs and the other one is healthcare, taking care of people. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Judge Ed Kinkeade. It is his vision; it is his passion; it is his unique way that has caused this to exist.”

Jim recalled his attending the previous graduation and “I asked the question that all first-time guests ask, ‘Why are all these Kleenex boxes sitting around?’ And so for the past several months, I’ve been building up this moment with my wife [Kristen] and she is with me today. I’ve noticed that she’s already getting a little teary and we haven’t even started the darn program yet. So, she’s going to be a mess before this thing is over. ”

Luckily, there were boxes of tissues placed throughout the room. Sure, it was Cinco de Mayo to the rest of the world, but it was a parting of relationships for some in the room and for others it was the coming together for a lifelong journey.

Canine Companion for Independence puppy in training

Canine Companion for Independence puppy graduate Dutch II

One group consisted of young Labradors that for two years had been raised through the “awkward years,” thanks to volunteer puppy raisers. These dogs had been loved, hugged and been exposed to the world. Now, they were leaving the comfort of their homes and stepping up to a new level of education that would take place at the facility for months by skilled trainers. Their goal was to become the “companions” for those in need.  

Judy Schumpert and #18

A word about the puppy raisers; they range from all types. Some are families; some are prisoners; and then there was Judy Schumpert, who was turning in her 18th dog and already training her 19th : “I’m either on a mission for God or a glutton for punishment. I’ve got to keep doing it until I can do it no more.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone living, loving and working with a puppy for two years and then giving them up. New puppy raisers Mary Catherine Lombardi and Erica Hotvedt admitted, “When we got started, I think we knew what we were getting into. But I think the final goodbyes are harder than we expected.”  They recognized that their puppy Yoshi III, however, was destined for a truly remarkable role.

That purpose became so apparent when the graduation of the new teams took place. For the past two weeks, the seven humans had arrived and lived at the facility to be matched and trained with their new best friends.

Edgar

Chosen as class spokesperson for the graduating teams, Edgar, with Chase V at his side, eloquently told of the importance of this program for the graduating humans. One was an autistic child, whose outbursts would “calm down immediately” when her pooch, Tess VI, “came to the rescue.” Thomas, whose weakened motor skills caused by cerebral palsy resulted in his dropping things to the floor, had been helped by  Atlas IV retrieving them for him. Wheel-chair-bound youngster Lauren‘s arm was subject to bouts of spasticity and limited control, but when Egan II lay down at her side, it was still and under control. Edgar himself admitted that there were times when he would fall out of his wheelchair and Chase’s bark command would sound the alert for assistance. Thanks to Dutch II, wheelchair-bound Lauren was looking forward to getting out on her own and not being “a burden on my parents.” Sara, who works with first responders in dealing with PTSD, would be assisted in the future by Aiken II, who would be “the non-judging entity in the room that helps the patients relax.” 

From the left: (seated) CCI graduate team Lauren and Egan; (standing) Puppy raisers Andrew, Ella, Mark, Angela and Lauren’s mother

Edgar continued, “These stories are a mere excerpt of what has happened in the past 10 days. Can you imagine what is going to happen in the next 10 years? All of us graduates would like to say thank you for being here today, whether you’re a donor, a puppy raiser, a volunteer. Even if this is your first time with Canine Companions, that’s how it starts. That how you get the ball rolling.”

Summing up the two weeks of team training, he addressed his fellow graduates: “We arrived as seven families, but today we graduate as one. And here we stand on the brink of a 10-year-journey. It won’t always be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. All the troubles that we deal with daily will soon be alleviated by an incredible new resource, my new best friend that is unconditionally at our side just waiting to help anyway they can. Thank you.”

As the new teams headed home for a new life of independence, the new recruits were taken to their CCI spotless digs for the next step in their education to be a life-changing partner for someone in need.   

Lauren and her mother

And that’s why the boxes of Kleenex were throughout the hall.

JUST IN: Peggy And Leonard Riggs To Be 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon Honorary Co-Chairs

The 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon kick-off party at Peggy and Leonard Riggs’ home just took place. In addition to confirming that Jamie Lee Curtis will be the speaker at the Thursday, October 26th event at the Hilton Anatole, Luncheon Chair Tucker Enthoven revealed that the honorary co-chairs will be Peggy and Leonard.

Leonard and Peggy Riggs, Jim and Kristen Hinton and Robin Robinson

Also on hand for the presentation were new Baylor Scott & White Health CEO Jim Hinton and his wife Kristen Hinton and Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson.

Louise Herrington School of Nursing’s Going for Gold Gala Raised Funds For Scholarships With TV Producer Derek Haas Keynoting

In this world of high technology and ever-changing development in the health care world, the mainstay of the medical world is the legion of nurses who daily provide the personal and professional care so needed by patients. Needless to say, their education and training doesn’t come cheap. That is why the 6th Annual Going For Gold Gala’s “Coming Together To Make A Difference” benefiting Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) on Saturday, February 25, at the Fairmont Hotel was so important.

Kristen and Jim Hinton, Shelley Conroy and Greg and Susan Pendleton Jones*

With 600 guests including Baylor Scott And White Health CEO Jim Hinton and his wife Kristen Hinton,  Baylor University Louise Herrington School Dean Dr. Shelley Conroy, Baylor University Executive Vice President Dr. Greg Jones and his wife Susan Pendleton Jones and Louise Herrington Ornelas, it was an occasion to “recognize and honor those who serve our communities — both the nurses who care for our sick and wounded and our selfless public servants in the police and firefighting communities.”

Two of those people were LHSON grad 1997 Jessica Haas and LHSON grad 2006 Annie Young, who work in the Richardson Independent School District as school nurses and saved two lives last fall.

On Monday, November 14, Jessica rescued a mom, Sarah Maupin, who had suffered a heart attack at Wallace Elementary just blocks away from the junior high. In addition to being featured in a report by WFAA (ABC) on Monday, November 14, and a story on KTVT (CBS) on Monday, December 5, Jessica was a guest on the Harry Connick Jr. Show on Wednesday, December 21.

During the week of December 5, a student collapsed on the track at Lake Highlands Junior High and Annie provided AED/CPR rescue.

Mary Ann Hill and Louise Herrington Ornealas*

Ray Vaughn*

In addition to celebrating Jessica and Annie, Gala Chair Mary Ann Hill arranged Baylor alumna/NBC-5 Co-Anchor Bianca Castro to serve as emcee. Adding to the special occasion were Dallas Police Officer Ray Vaughn’s singing “Be The Change,” and LHSON alumna Bailey Harrison Moore, BSN 2015, providing “a compelling testimony.”

Derek Haas and students*

With the help of volunteer Gala Task Force members and LHSON Student Ambassadors, Mary Ann also had silent and live auctions, as well as having Baylor graduate Derek Haas (no relation to Jessica) be the keynote speaker. In addition to co-creating and producing NBC’s hit television series “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Med,” his newest show, “Chicago Justice,” was just days away from premiering.

Past Going for the Gold Galas have featured champion athletes and celebrities such as: Noah Galloway, a wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom U.S. Army war veteran hero and finalist on “Dancing with the Stars” along with Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams in 2016; Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Quarterback Robert Griffin III (RGIII) and former Baylor linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary in 2015; America’s gold medal legend Mary Lou Retton in 2014; former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith in 2013 and Baylor’s championship-winning women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, who joined former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman in 2012.

LHSON is passionate about preparing exemplary nurses for the 21st century, and the key to doing that is recruiting and retaining outstanding students. Proceeds from the gala provide scholarships as well as funding for the new nursing school building in the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

The evening was made possible thanks to the generosity of Louise Herrington Ornelas, Elizabeth and Drayton McLane Jr. and the following patrons and sponsors:

  • Golden Gran Gala Hosts — The Ginger Murchison Foundation, Suzanne and Tom Martin and Donna and Scott Miller
  • Gold Benefactor — Marie and John Chiles, Dr. and Mrs. J. Stuart Crutchfield, Shari and Terry Hill, Pam and Mike Jones and Martha and John Minton
  • Gold Patron — Dr. D.M. Edwards
  • Golden Sponsor — Jay and Jenny Allison, Susan Key and Gary E. Baker, Barnabas Foundation Inc./Anita Jones, Ruth and Don Buchholz, Sue and Rex Jennings, Laurie and Mark Nielsen, Alice and Ken Starr and Lois and Dexter Ward
  • Golden Friend — Rita and Carl Bonds, Mr. and Mrs. C. Robert Byrd, Joy (Helm) and Steve Cobb, Chris and Michael Felton, Karen and Paul McDonald, Cheryl and Ron Hylse Murff, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen D. Reynolds, Dr. and Mrs. David L. Ring, Dr. Lisa Stepp, Dr. Kathryn and Don Tinius and Terri Heard and Nancy Withrow
  • Sustaining Member — Dr. and Mrs. C. Brad Bowman
  • Video Underwriter — Brenda and Bob Barkley
  • Invitation Underwriter — Marie and John Chiles
  • Special Underwriter — Suzanne and Martin
  • Table Host — Prosperity Bank and Leisa and Jimmy Winters
* Photo credit: Mary and Michael Hammack