Thursday, September 13, 2012


Jean & I at one of his races

My eldest son Jean has been running in races for 8 years, for fun and staying in shape.  He has participated in over 75 races, 7 being at least marathon distance.  This summer, Jean has taken on a running, service project to raise funds for Wild & Free, an animal rehabilitation center in Garrison, Minnesota.  

As a three year old he could look at a bird book and identify most of the common song birds of our area.  His baby sitter once said to him as she looked out on the lawn, "Look Jean, a birdie."  Jean replied, "No, it's a robin."  His love and knowledge of birds and animals has always been a special part of his life.  So it wasn't surprising to me, that Jean came up with this great and unique fundraising idea.

On October 27th he is running the "Surf the Murph 50K Ultramarathon."  It is a trail race in Savage, MN and it will be Jean's second ultramarathon.  His original goal was to raise one thousand dollars for the Wild & Free rehab center.  As the news got out, the thousand dollar goal kept rising.  Friends and relatives opened their hearts and wallets; plus the Pfizer Animal Health Company offered to match funds up to $5,000.  Now the fundraiser has mushroomed to a grand total of $5,215 and hopefully the new goal of $6,000 will be reached by October 27th.

The Wild & Free story in Jean's words:  "Wild & Free is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation center in Garrison, MN that is near and dear to my heart.  They take in injured and orphaned birds and animals in and effort to rehabilitate, care for, and release them back into the wild, and they are dedicated to wildlife and habitat education.  I have been a supporter of theirs for a number of years now, and a barred owl, great-horned owl, and an American white pelican that I helped sponsor are now back in the wild thanks to these people.  They do extraordinary work."

I can personally testify to their extraordinary caring for sick and injured animals.  A few years ago I had a gray fox den on my property with a litter of four kits.  Unknown to me, the mother disappeared and the kits were left on their own without nourishment.  During a rainstorm I found one of the kits had wandered up and died on my lawn.  That morning I searched for the other kits and found two.  I tried to feed them the best I could, but one of the kits died that night.  

With the help of my daughter in law Blythe, I decided to take the last kit to Wild & Free to try and save him.  We made the 200 mile trip to the rehab center and dropped off the kit.  Over the following week I called each day to find out the condition of the kit.  Unfortunately the kit was too far undernourished and did not survive, but I have never forgotten the caring the staff of Wild & Free showed in trying to save the little gray fox.  

I was saddened by the loss of the little gray fox, but on a positive note, I learned about all the many injured animals and birds Wild & Free has saved... around 350 orphaned or injured a year, released into the wild when healthy enough.  

A recent Wild & Free triumph was a release of a bobcat May 15th.  The bobcat was brought in this January with a diagnosed concussion, it was thought he was hit by a car in Hermantown, MN.  Rather than letting authorities put down the bobcat, the residents took the animal into their care and brought it to Wild & Free.  

The heart-warming story line here is, injured animals come to Wild & Free and they are fed and taken care of, then released when good health is achieved.  Animals that aren't set free because of the inability to take care of themselves usually go to a zoo, endangered animals are taken to breeding projects.

I am extremely proud of Jean's efforts in raising funds for Wild & Free.  When Jean crosses the finish line on October 27th the animals of Wild & Free will be the winners.  

If you wish to contribute to the Wild & Free fundraiser Jean's website is:

"Our treatment of animals is important to our own internal state. If we are to expand our horizons, to grow to understand what the relatedness of each and every thing means, then our love and appreciation of all life is essential. Our respect and reverence for all living things will be reflected in our own living." - Bill Schul (Author of The Psychic Power of Animals)