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Walk to benefit hurricane-slammed humane society

By Staff | Dec 19, 2019

The damage and devastation Hurricane Dorian left in its wake not only impacted human life, but animals on the islands of the Bahamas as well.

In January, a walk will be held in Cape Coral to benefit the Humane Society of Grand Bahama, which is in dire need of donations to help repair facilities and give shelter and care to animals there.

The 20-mile walk, organized by Hector Cafferata Elementary teacher Leslie Vilardi, takes place Jan. 11, at 8 a.m., beginning and ending at Rotary park.

Vilardi said she was inspired by a Naples woman who raised money for the same endeavor.

“I love animals and thought (raising money for the society) was great and decided to do a walk,” Vilardi said. “I am a huge animal lover and I saw an opportunity to help them.”

Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 hurricane, devastated Grand Bahama Island in September with gusting winds, over 20-foot storm surge and endless flooding.

During the storm, more than 200 dogs and 50 cats drowned due to the humane society taking on almost 5 feet of water.

All supplies inside the building were lost, as well as food to feed animals.

Now, the Humane Society of Grand Bahama is working to rebuild, rework and reunite pets with their loved ones.

One foundation that works side-by-side with the Grand Bahama Humane Society is the Kohn Foundation.

The Kohn Foundation has been in partnership with the GBHS for nearly 15 years, and all money raised goes to the shelter.

“I have been in contact with the Kohn Foundation since planning my walk and they have been amazing,” Vilardi said. “One hundred percent of the money donated through the Kohn Foundation will go to the Grand Bahama Humane Society and it’s tax deductible.”

Vilardi is asking for any monitory donation to participate in the walk.

“Animal shelters always need assistance but when they are completely destroyed by a hurricane they need even more help,” Vilardi said. “All of the pets I have ever had have either been from a shelter or picked up off the streets.”

Walkers do not have to log all 20-miles if they are not able to.

“I’m not sure I will make it all 20 miles,” Vilardi joked. “We will have people that walkers can call if they feel they need to stop walking and take them back to the starting point, so walkers can walk as short of a distance as they want.”

Vilardi also is looking for volunteers to assist in supplying water/snacks along the walking route for participants.

Those who would like to take part in the walk or become a volunteer are asked to email Vilardi at walkforanimals@yahoo.com. Walkers are asked to RSVP by Dec. 31.

“This is a great cause and a great way to start the new year,” said Vilardi.

If you are not able to participate in the walk but would like to donate to assist in the rebuilding of the Humane Society of Grand Bahama, you can go to the website, www.thekohnfoundation.org, and make a donation.

“Any amount donated is greatly appreciated and will be put to good use,” Vilardi said.

Vilardi said checks, that are exempt from the 2.9% fee PayPal takes from an online donation, can be sent to: The Kohn Foundation, c/o Ellen Kohn at 173 Chisholm Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87506.

“Thank you so much for your consideration in helping the animals affected by Hurricane Dorian,” Vilardi said. “Your donation will make a huge difference to the care given to the animals in the Grand Bahamas.”

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj