Dogs Save Lives fundraiser March 3

Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 3:54 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - One of the most decorated female veterans in U.S. history is coming to the Chippewa Valley to help raise money for a cause she has a personal connection to.

Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans (retired) is the guest speaker at the Dogs Save Lives fundraiser on March 3 in Eau Claire. Dogtopia of Eau Claire is hosting the event to raise money for the Dogtopia Foundation.

The goal is to raise $60,000, which will sponsor 10 dogs to go through the proper training to be placed with veterans. Evans knows firsthand the benefits service dogs bring to veterans.

In 2006, Evans was severely wounded while serving in Afghanistan. A rocket blast caused a traumatic brain injury, internal injuries and the loss of her hearing.

“I was really struggling with the transition. 27 years U.S. Army, and then in one millisecond my career was over due to a rocket blast. I was struggling, and I reached out to America’s VetDogs and asked them if they could help me,” said Evans.

Evans says her service dog Aura was the first hearing dog trained by America’s VetDogs.

“Life changing for me. Gave me back my independence. Gave me a battle buddy who was with me all the time. She brough down my anxiety. She helped me with my PTSD, my depression. So it was a pivotal time when I received Aura,” she said.

Aura and now Rusty, her second service dog, alert Evans to every day sounds she can’t hear, including the doorbell, her phone and people calling her name. Not to mention the emotional support.

“It’s not just a band-aid on a wound. These dogs are with us eight to 10 years. There’s no way to measure what these dogs do for us,” said Evans.

Evans will share more about her life and what service dogs mean to her at the Dogs Save Lives fundraiser on March 3. Doors open at 5 p.m. The event starts at 6 p.m. at The Brewing Projekt.

“If your heart leads you down that path to be generous, you can change and save someone’s life by just learning about it and perhaps making a donation towards it,” said Evans.

Click HERE to purchase a ticket to the event or to make a donation.