Trade #14 and what happened today was nothing less than amazing. When we posted Puppy a week ago, my first call was to my friend Stacy Dvorak who is not only one of the most well connected hunters I know but she is also extremely charitable. When I emailed Stacy about Puppy, she immediately called and told me about a Pheasants Forever military appreciation event where she would be honoring 50 war veterans who love to hunt. She said “we have to find a way to give Puppy away to one of the vets!” I agreed it was a great idea but I also reminded her we would need something to trade. So here’s what happened…
Stacy got off the phone with me and send an email to the President of the Minnesota Twins, David St. Peter with the message “call me”. Within 10 minutes, she received a call from David and she pitched him on the idea of him trading a “personal lunch with him” and tour of Target Field to make it possible for the Puppy to be given away to a deserving war veteran. He loved the idea and agreed to help! We did too. So we gave Stacy the green light to help us find a deserving veteran that could provide the perfect home for Puppy. Stacy broadcast the puppy opportunity to the 50 veterans and received 5 heartfelt letters from veterans on why they would like to be considered. Stacy shared the letters with me and we couldn’t believe it. She personally interviewed each of them and we realized we had found 5 perfect homes for one pup. How could we ever choose just one? With less than a week to the big event, the idea of getting more puppies seemed farfetched but we also knew there was no way we could send the other 4 heroes home entirely empty-handed.
I couldn’t resist and made a call to local breeder Kruchek Retrievers. It was a long shot but I pitched the idea to owner J.J. Kruchek. To my amazement, I learned that J.J. is also a military veteran and happened to have 4 nine-week old black lab puppies left in his litter (almost spooky!). Like Puppy #1, these 4 come from field champion bloodlines and are highly valuable. J.J. was all over the idea of surprising the other 4 veterans and offered a significant discount to make it possible.
As we broke this news to many of you, the donations poured in. We received over $1,400 in 4 days and it set up one of the most remarkable surprises I’ve ever been a part of. Today in room full of 50+ war veterans along with friends, family we honored Colonel Dirk Kloss and his family with Puppy #1. Colonel Kloss just returned in February to his wife Morgan and 3 year old son Max after his 1 year deployment in Basra, Iraq. Colonel Kloss lost his 8 year-old lab just before their son was born and has looked forward to the day he would settle down with his family and a new puppy. Today was that day.
As the other 4 soldiers sat through the Thank you video, they were blind-sided when Chad, Frank, Stacy, J.J. and I rolled into the room today with 4 more puppies. It played out perfectly and reactions from everyone were overwhelming. Many tears as we saw the joy brought to these brave men that have sacrificed so much. It was a small gesture in light of what they have given to us but it was one I don’t think anyone in that room will ever forget.
Below is the video of Puppy #1 being awarded followed by the “Thank you” video and then the surprise…
WCCO channel 4 news covered the event and it will air on the 10:00 PM news tonight and likely again 10:00 AM tomorrow. There are endless people to thank for making this happen but especially Stacy Dvorak and David St. Peter who are at the top of the list. It is so interesting how 1 phone call can impact so many lives.
So now available for trade…. a personal lunch with the President of the Minnesota Twins, David St. Peter and a tour of Target Field. How timely with the season opener days away!