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Kelly Larson is an absolute ROCK STAR! Who else could take a grassroots rescue with no established programs or events; only 5 active volunteers; and a $6,000 budget in 2002….and transform it into a structured, high-energy organization with over 200 proud volunteers and $120,000 in annual “helping” capacity? And most importantly, her leadership grew the number of true beneficiaries of the program from 1 or 2 saved animals a year to an incredible 585 in 2016 alone. All told, on Kelly’s watch more than 2,500 cats and dogs have been rescued—from initial discovery and recovery…to medical treatment, thorough vetting and either foster or adoption placement. Of course, many animals need extended vet care like heartworm treatment, limb amputations, eye surgeries or extensive dental work that quickly eats away at our budget. So how does she do it?

For an organization receiving no state or federal funding, fundraising remains a core component of our success. Kelly understood this from the very start, and immediately hit the ground running. Invited by the board to serve as Treasurer in one of her very first meetings with the Franklin County Humane Society (FCHS)….(and before the ink was even dry) she founded what has become the organization’s flagship fundraiser, the annual Putt’n for Paws Golf Tourney. From organizing volunteers to courting corporate or community partners, she single-handedly built a true FCHS tradition. She followed this up in 2005 with the wildly popular 5K-9 Run and 1-Mile Dog Walk; not surprisingly, BOTH events continue to grow exponentially, in terms in participation and donations. Her energy and insight in responsible fundraising—as well as a highly successful 2-year lobbying campaign to convince county commissioners of the need to replace a rundown rural shelter—landed her the role of FCHS Board President in 2009…where she has been ever since.

Kelly is much more than a smart leader and business person. She is a devoted, compassionate and caring human being. She stumbled into the animal rescue world in 2002 when a skinny, matted dog found its way into her yard. After losing her own 15-yr-old furry companion just 2 weeks earlier, this stray truly pulled at her heart strings. She reached out to the then fledgling FCHS, and took on the role of foster parent. Of course she “failed”, adopting her first foster dog after just one month. And through the years she has never lost sight of why we do what we do, best illustrated by her continued role in personally leading our active animal transport program, organizing countless Freedom Rides for rescued dogs and cats on their way to new families in the north.

Kelly asks for nothing. She directs the organization from the heart and its growth—and ever-increasing applications to be part of it—are true testaments to her approach and vision.

Please help me celebrate a caring woman who has given so much of herself to help those who simply cannot help themselves.

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