Helping Fellow Heroes

July 28, 2020

Every storybook needs a hero. Sometimes even the hero, needs a hero. Maine’s own Christy Gardner is a hero in every sense of the word. We share part one of our two part series on her mission…

Christy Gardner played high school and college sports, in Maine, before serving in the U.S. Army.

“I was overseas peacekeeping, I was injured in the line of duty,” says USA Paralympian Christy Garnder, “I ended up having to skull fractures, spinal chord injury, some other fractures, I lost two fingers, and then both legs.”

Gardner battled for years in recovery.

“About a year and a half on active duty rehabbing,” says Gardiner, “Then when I came home, another 3 1/2 years with physical therapy, and occupational therapy, and speech therapy through the V.A.” A recovery aided by a dog.

“Moxie is my savior,” Gardner says, “she is my service dog.”

Who reminded Christy that even heroes need a hero sometimes.

“Another Veteran I met kept inviting me to adaptive sports events,” says Gardner

Despite being told she wouldn’t play sports again, Christy found a way to compete.

“I started doing the winter and summer sports clinics that the V.A. puts on,” say Gardner, “The V.A. winter sports clinic it’s skiing and snowboarding all day. Then at night, they introduce a new sport like kayaking in the hotel pool, wheelchair basketball, and then sled hockey.

She’s now been on the USA Women’s Sled Hockey team for 8 years.

“As far as you can go, as a female in the sport,” says Gardner, “It takes so many different muscles, and so much athleticism. It’s so competitive because it’s full checking in high speed. It’s just an amazing sport.”

It helped her find clarity in her mission.

“I went back to the University of Southern Maine and graduated with a degree in recreation therapy,” Gardner says.

A clear mission. Help people, and if there is no way to help, find one.

“I interned at the V.A.,” says Gardner, “I said ‘I wonder if they give us ice time to let the veterans come to public skating.’ We started a sled hockey program for disabled veterans here. We are the New England Warriors. We’ve been in the local hockey league for I think five years and we’ve won the league twice. It’s so much fun to be a part of a team and to excel at some thing at a competitive level.”

Gardner has found another way to be a hero for heroes. She trains service and therapy dogs to make a difference like she felt.

“Teach them all the basics. Sit, stay, lay down, be housebroken, those sort of things,” Gardner says, “And just socialize them and desensitize them to different environments. I started doing that and then I really got into more of the training.”

Which is where we find our protagonist…..

We’ll introduce you to Lucky, who now has a book about him, and see how he is helping Christy with her mission in part two Tuesday night.

  • Most Recent News

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    October 9, 2020

    When the shutdown orders took full effect, it became nearly impossible to find a small dog available for adoption as Southlanders sought furry companions. In many Southland shelters, only larger breeds remained available for adoption. Now Los Angeles Animal Service is touting the joys of big dogs while offering discounted adoption fees for larger breeds […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Walkathon

    October 9, 2020

    On Saturday, October 3, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states joined the path to bettering the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ fourth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser – this year held virtually – raised more than $120,000 to further BluePath’s mission of providing autism service […]

    Read more

    Service Dog In The Marching Band

    October 9, 2020

    In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. […]

    Read more

    Church Blesses Animals

    October 9, 2020

    St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Jervis hosted a special outdoor service last Sunday afternoon to bless the community’s pets, animals and other living creatures. In keeping with current pandemic rules, pet owners wore masks, remained distant, and took part in praying for dogs, cats, turtles, and other pets and animals around […]

    Read more

    Police Welcomes New Canine

    October 9, 2020

    Young Kingston Police service dog Bask may look small, but his handler says his training and energy are proving that he’s up to fill the shoes of his predecessor. “I think he’s going to be a great little dog,” Const. Jeff Dickson said, looking down at his new partner. A partner that, wearing the right […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    October 9, 2020

    St. Petersburg is widely recognized as a dog-friendly city, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is making sure its four-legged visitors and their humans feel welcome by rolling out the artificial turf carpet. With the completion of the airport’s parking and roadway project – part of a series of multi-million dollar improvements at the airport over the […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Helps Firefighters

    October 9, 2020

    Firefighters battling the Archie Creek and Thielsen fires have had some long, exhausting days. But for some, their troubles seemed to melt away once they got back to camp. Why? Meet Ralph Colombo. He hauls oversize loads. And joining Ralph is his service dog, Cowboy – the morale boosting, firefighting puppy. “He just keeps my […]

    Read more

    Pet Therapy Program

    October 9, 2020

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    A Service Dogs Place

    October 9, 2020

    A new Pineville nonprofit that helps people with disabilities obtain service dogs has made its first match. The Saber Life Foundation was started in March by Danea Key and her husband Joel. They provide people with trained service dogs, paying 51 percent of the cost, with the client paying the other 49 percent. Service dogs […]

    Read more

    Dog Beating Cancer

    October 9, 2020

    A little over a year after a local dog was given only a few months to live after being diagnosed with bone cancer, she is still in remission and will be celebrated her twelfth birthday this month. Cocoa has been with her owner, Bucyrus resident Christie Auck, since she was nine-weeks-old. “On Aug. 18, 2019, […]

    Read more

    More Recent News