WORCESTER — Leominster native Mallory Galatzer-Levy is inviting humanitarian thrill seekers and those who want to check it off their bucket list to go “Over the Edge” for service dog teams as part of the Canines for Disabled Kids fundraiser on Saturday, Dec. 11, where participants will be rappelling from the roof of the historic, 8-floor Mercantile Building on Front Street.
This exciting opportunity gives people the rare chance to experience the thrill of rappelling in downtown Worcester while supporting the creation of child and service dog teams for Canines for Disabled Kids, which provides counseling services to families looking to add a service dog to their family.
“We are always looking for fun and interesting ways to fundraise,” said Galatzer-Levy, who has been with Canines for Disabled Kids for 15 years doing fundraising and more as the special events coordinator. “Over the Edge approached us with this event and we just had to do it, it was such an amazing opportunity to do something really exciting and raise funds and publicity for the cause.”
The event is limited to 90 spots and so far, 25 are signed up. There is a $50 registration and raising $1,000 secures your spot. And if you sign up with a friend, it’s $100 to register and $1,700 secures a spot for both of you on the rappel rope. There are incentives for fundraising including getting a GoPro recording of your rappel if you raise $1,500 and each participant will receive a free event T-shirt.
All the funds raised will support educational programs on service dogs in schools, assist people considering the use of service dogs, and provide scholarships to help families, including children and teens cover some of the training costs of a service dog.
“Give the gift of independence and have a great time doing it,” an event press release stated.
Canines for Disabled Kids began in 1998 as an offshoot of NEADS World Class Service Dogs, formerly known as National Education for Assistance Dog Services and Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans. Since then, the Worcester-based nonprofit has sponsored over 130 service dogs that can help children with different disabilities, some with their parents as facilitators or supervisors and others independently.
Galatzer-Levy, who grew up in Leominster and graduated from Leominster High School in 2003, now lives in Auburn with her husband and their two young daughters. She has years of experience with dogs, including training and personally — sadly, two of her own dogs died this summer.
She said she relishes being a part of the Canines for Disabled Kids team and spreading the word about its mission of increasing independence for children with disabilities and their families by promoting service dog partnerships, understand, and awareness throughout the community.
“I really enjoy helping people learn more about these tools and the way they can bring independence to their users,” Galatzer-Levy said. “Service dogs are not the right choice for everyone, but for their users they are really life changing. The industry is constantly evolving, and people are finding new ways dogs can assist their users all the time. I love speaking to people about the things the dogs are doing, and the excitement they show when they find out all the cool ways dogs can mitigate a person’s disabilities.”
Galatzer-Levy will participate in the fundraiser and rappel down the building, a feat she said she is “really excited” to get to do.
“I have rappelled before, but never this high,” Galatzer-Levy said. “The Mercantile building is in a great location and it’s going to be such a cool view of the city. I can’t wait to get some awesome pictures and video of descent.”
She said they had originally planned to do the fundraising event before COVID-19 and were hoping to raise $100,000.
“COVID has greatly affected our ability to do fundraisers and we were forced to scale back some of our original plans for this event,” she said, adding that to date they have raised $9,000. “We are looking to raise as much money as possible to be able to best assist everyone who needs us.”
They will be accepting donations towards the fundraiser through Dec. 31 and Galatzer-Levy said they are grateful for any and all donations, big or small.
“Even if heights aren’t your thing, you can help encourage someone else to go over or put some money toward their goal,” she said.
Galatzer-Levy said it is important to her and the Canines for Disabled Kids team to do this unique fundraising event, not only raising money but also awareness of what they offer.
“Service dogs bring independence to their users, and we want everyone who would benefit from a dog like this to have access to one,” she said. “We provide scholarships to offset the cost of these dogs for kids 18 and under, so the more funds we have, the more children we can assist with obtaining dogs like these.
“We are an international organization and provide our scholarships and education services to people all over the country and in Canada,” Galatzer-Levy said. “We will provide information to anyone who is looking for more info about service dogs and help them find an organization to best train a dog to suit their needs. We also work with businesses looking for more info about the laws that govern service dogs and their use to help them fully understand and best work with service dog teams.”
She said she hopes the awareness raised will match more dogs with children who could benefit from their service “as well as get people excited.”
“The more people aware of our service, the more people we can help.”