Announcing the 2010 Changemaker!

There are moments in life when hard work and determination go unnoticed.  It’s the product of good character and positive work ethic, and usually it’s recognized only by the person investing their own time, sweat and tears into their effort. Every once in a while, however, fate intervenes, casts a light on the anonymous and lifts up these works of good for the entire world to see.

As our voting period came to a close, we at Epic Thanks Tampa Bay were very excited to tally the results and see which of our five finalists received the most support from the members of our community.  All five individuals and programs nominated are worthy candidates, and we feel each deserves continued backing for their efforts.  Unfortunately, we could select only one finalist to be this year’s winner and the person whom we’ll be celebrating at our event on November 19.

It is with much honor and giddy anticipation that we’re pleased to announce this year’s Tampa Bay area Changemaker as determined by you the voters.  That distinguished designation goes to Mike Halley and his program Halley’s K-9s for Veterans.

Halley’s K-9s for Veterans provides trained service and companion dogs for disabled Veterans.   Working with dogs that are donated to the program or rescued from a shelter, Halley’s K-9s trains veterans to care for their pets over a period of several weeks so the new teams can learn to work together as one.

Following his career as a United Stated Marine, Mike Halley spent much time dealing with issues for which he could not identify the cause.  It was not until 1988 that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he has spent the last twenty two years trying to learn how to live with his condition.  In March of 2007, Mike trained his Doberman pinscher, Porsche, to be his personal service dog, and this has led to making Mike’s life much so much better.  The following year was filled with other veterans asking him “Who trained your dog?” and “Can you train a dog for me?”

As a result, Mike founded Halley’s K-9s for Veterans in October of 2008, to provide obedient dogs to disabled veterans of all war eras, to help these veterans overcome their invisible disabilities in order to become more productive and functional, and also to inform the public of the need for service dogs other than Seeing Eye dogs.  Mike and his wife have spent $25k of their own money raising, feeding and training service dogs to give to disabled American Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other invisible disabilities.

The kennel is primarily funded through Mike’s disability check from the Veteran’s Administration as well as some minor donations from friends.  All dogs used are either donated to the program or rescued.  To date, Halley’s K-9s for Veterans has placed and/or trained twenty eight teams, and many of the service dogs placed have detected life-threatening illnesses or conditions for their new owners.

As this year’s Changemaker, Mike hopes to grow Halley’s K-9s for Veterans into the organization for placing well trained service dogs that perform life saving “miracles” on a regular basis.  Mike’s plans for Halley’s K9s include obtaining a used RV for housing veterans that live fifty miles away or more during their intensive training period with their new partner, using the funds to pay for the program’s veterinary bill, purchase additional agility equipment for the training of the dogs, equipping the kennel for winter weather and upgrading the physical facilities surrounding the kennel.

We hope you come out and join us on November 19 as we celebrate Mike’s amazing efforts and help raise money for his incredibly worthy cause.

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  1. Posted October 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Mike and Pam from all your friends and fellow trikers from over the pond. It is good to see that so many folk notice and appreciate all you do for those who have fought so hard to keep us all safe and sound in our beds. I can already see you sitting over plans for the spending of your new funds.

    Big hugs to you both.

    Jackie and Shaun LLOYD
    BTW UK

  2. Posted October 2, 2010 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Its a great thing that you and Pam are doing, and I hope this prize/grant helps you expand and continue your work and your passion…

    Dave and Scottie Sisemore
    Brothers of the Third Wheel [BTW]
    San Diego, CA

  3. Vicki & Buddy
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Mike & Pam,
    Congratulations and an extra hurrah! I am so proud to know the both of you.
    Your hard work and courage are a heartening example to many others.
    A Thank you again, every day of my life for “Buddy.”

  4. Dick and Kay
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Mike and Pam. I knew you would do it and well deserved it is. I do not know if we can be there by the 19th of November, but we will connect with you as soon as we can.

    Love to both of you.

  5. Posted October 3, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Mike & Pam,
    You are among the dearest of people I know. While there were a few worthy candidates (some of whom I also know) with equally worthy community programs, it is indeed good news to hear that Halley’s K9s received the recognition. May you both continue to find blossoming success with your passion.

    Joseph Costa
    Heads Up Sleep Systems, Inc.
    Tampa, FL

  6. Posted October 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Your gunner from EM 19 , HMM 261 1965-66 still got you covered buddy. I hope this win gives you some rewarding encounters. You certainly deserve it. Semper Fi.

  7. Posted October 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I cannot say how proud my dad makes me by doing what he believes in. Congratulations to my Father Mike and Step-Mother Pam for all they are doing. This just goes to show you, dreams can come true.

  8. Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Congratulations to Mike and Pam! All though I don’t believe I will be able to make the event I will be doing my part to share it up.

  9. Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for what you are doing for Tampa Vets Mike.

  10. Summer Ramjak
    Posted November 29, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to you! I am a firm believer in this program. Thank you for your support of fellow veterans

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