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CHAMPS Connecticut

CHAMPS Connecticut was first launched in 2005 with the help and leadership of Betsy Parkinson. Over the last 18 years Betsy’s CHAMPS program has been embraced by 28 schools across greater Fairfield County, CT. With Betsy’s passionate leadership, joined by the enthusiastic determination of teachers and administrators at the CHAMPS Schools in CT – the schoolchildren have raised more than $240,000 to send 19 highly trained Mine Detection Dogs to 5 countries. Further fundraising has helped provide Mine Risk Education and prosthetics and wheelchairs for young landmine survivors – raising more than $300,000. These incredible kids have inspired private donors and foundations to donate more to support MLI and the CHAMPS CT program! Thanks to everyone who has contributed to making CHAMPS CT campaigns such an incredible and inspiring success!

CHAMPS Connecticut campaigns have sponsored 19 dogs, and there is one more campaign in the works. 

CHAMPS Schools:

North Mianus School

Greenwich Country Day School

Stanwich Primary House

Stanwich Intermediate House

St. Luke’s School

Middlesex Elementary School

Glenville Elementary School

International School at Dundee

Convent of the Sacred Heart

Brunswick Upper

Brunswick Middle School

New Lebanon Elementary School

Weston Intermediate School

Sacred Heart Middle School

Sacred Heart Upper School

Central Jr. High School

Parkway School

The Beacon School

Cos Cob Elementary School

Darien High School

Old Greenwich School

Eagle Hill School

Grace Christian School in Stamford

Holmes Elementary in Darien

Saxe Middle School in New Canaan

Norwalk & Greenwich Cub Scouts

Greenwich Rotary Club

Greenwich Senior Center

Individual friends of CHAMPS

MDD Perry Campaign 

MDD Perry was sponsored in 2022 by students attending both public and private schools within the Greenwich, CT area in honor of Perry Baltimore, MLI Founding President, for his dedication to CHAMPS and for inspiring so many students over the years.  MDD Perry serves with the Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA), "sniffing out" landmines in Azerbaijan.

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MDD Betsy Campaign

In 2020, MDD Betsy was sponsored by school children participating in the CHAMPS CT Campaign and named in honor of Betsy Parkinson, Connecticut Chairperson of CHAMPS - for over 15 years of dedicated service to the CHAMPS Program! MDD Betsy was donated to the Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA) and is now "sniffing out" landmines in Azerbaijan.

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EDD Palmer 

EDD Palmer was sponsored in 2018 by students at North Mianus School, a CHAMPS leader, and several other Greenwich area schools. EDD Palmer is a Belgian Malinois born in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was donated to the Ministry of Peshmerga (MoP) and now works to help the MoP K9 Unit to sniff out explosive remnants of war in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.  

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EDD Cauldwell Campaign 

IA Belgian Malinois, EDD Cauldwell was sponsored in 2018 by students at Greenwich Country Day School (GCDS) and school children of Fairfield County, CT.  This EDD was named in honor of Sarah Cauldwell, a retired GCDS teacher - for her dedication to the CHAMPS Program and for inspiring so many students over the years.  EDD Cauldwell was donated to the Ministry of Peshmerga and now serves in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.  

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MDD Donnalley Campaign 

In 2017, MDD Donnalley was sponsored by school children of Fairfield County, CT, and students at Greenwich Country Day School (GCDS). MDD Donnalley was named in honor of GCDS teacher, Jen Donnalley, also a member of the CHAMPS CT founding committee. A Belgian Malinois born in Croatia, MDD Donnalley was donated to the Office of Civil Protection Republika Srpska and serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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The Nibs Campaign

The children, parents, and teachers in and around Greenwich, CT sponsored their 13th dog! MDD Nibs was named in honor of a beloved school Principal, Mr. Andrew Niblock. MDD Nibs works in Sri Lanka, “sniffing out” landmines and saving lives, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the wonderful children of Connecticut.

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The Emily Campaign

Students from North Mianus School and the Cos Cob school hosted a CHAMPathon Walk in April 2016 to help raise money and, thanks to the wonderful support they received from the community, they completed the campaign before the end of the school year! They chose to name the dog MDD Emily, in honor of a North Mianus student, Emily Fedorko, who tragically passed away.

MDD Emily worked in Bosnia-Herzegovina, “sniffing out” landmines and saving lives until last year when she retired to live out the rest of her life with a CHAMPS Connecticut family here in the U.S.! 


The Cosby Campaign

MDD Cosby was fully funded by the students from The New Brunswick School in Greenwich, CT. They raised enough money to make MDD Cosby a reality and named him in honor of a beloved teacher, coach, and friend Mr. Robert Cosby, who passed away.

One of these students,  Henry Harris, completed a cross-country bike trip of 3,238 miles to raise money for Cosby. Harris fundraised $9,865 during his 3-month trip across the U.S.  He was joined by 12 other high school students in a program called Overland. The students carried all of their supplies while they rode nearly 85 miles per day. Henry's efforts helped complete funding for MDD Cosby, who served six years, “sniffing out” mines in Bosnia. Upon his retirement in 2022, MDD Cosby moved to the United States to serve as MLI's K9 Ambassador. Known as "Rico-Cosby," he now travels the U.S. to educate CHAMPS students about the important work of mine detection dogs and even has his own book!


The Tiger Pride Campaign

Lisa Hires, a student from Greenwich Country Day School, led a campaign to sponsor a dog she and her classmates named Tiger Pride.”  Lisa and her 5th grade class selected the name Tiger Pride, because “pride” is the emotion they feel while raising money for a dog that can make the world a safer place and “tiger” is their school mascot. Her class organized bake sales, chores & and craft sales, and raised more than any other CT school for this campaign.

Lisa decided to finish off the campaign by participating in a triathlon and asking friends and family members to make a donation to support her so she could raise the remaining funds to fully sponsor MDD Tiger Pride. She accomplished her goal and raised thousands of dollars to finish the campaign! MDD Tiger Pride joined MDD Cosby in Bosnia, where both dogs saved countless lives!


The Rachel Campaign

Led by 12-year-old cousins Alse Wright, Britney Parkinson, and Hailey Hires, in 2014, the annual CHAMPS-Connecticut campaign sponsored MDD Rachel. MDD Rachel was named in honor of MLI’s Canine Ambassador’s caretaker, Rachel, who was born with special needs. Alyse, Britney, and Hailey involved the entire community and held dozens of fundraisers, including walkathons and bake sales, and with the support of their family and friends in and around Greenwich, CT, fully sponsored MDD Rachel. She was sent to "sniff out" landmines in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2015, the girls were able to visit Bosnia, meet MDD Rachel and her handler, and watch this wonderful dog in action “sniffing out” landmines!


The Parkinson Family Campaign

In 2007, the Parkinson family sponsored a dog named MDD Parky, who worked in Bosnia Herzegovina for four years before catching a disease and unexpectedly passing away. In 2012, MLI named another dog in honor of MDD Parky, naming him MDD Parkie. MDD Parkie worked in Iraq to save countless lives over the past four years.


The Nutmeg Campaign

Kirsten Parkinson

CHAMPS Schools:
Greenwich Country Day School
The Stanwich School
Grace Christian School – Stamford
Parkway School
Old Greenwich Elementary School
New Lebanon School
Laura J. Niles Foundation

In the summer of 2008, Kirsten Parkinson traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina after raising $20,000 to sponsor a life-saving dog she named MDD Nutmeg, in honor of the Nutmeg state of Connecticut! Kirsten also traveled to Konjic in Bosnia with the rest of the Donor Delegation to visit the MDDC Center for Bosnia where she “interviewed” all six dogs training to be deployed to Lebanon and selected her NutmegNutmeg worked in Lebanon for eight years, and when she retired served as MLI’s “Canine Ambassador.” Kirsten is now in college and was able to visit with Nutmeg the first week she flew to the U.S. from Lebanon! After her service, MDD Nutmeg came to the U.S. to live out her retirement as the beloved pet of a Glenelg School CHAMPS family - The Marschalls. She was a frequent visitor to the school, spreading the word about the important work of mine detection dogs.


The Hawk Campaign

In 2013, CHAMPS-Connecticut campaigns sponsored MDD Hawk, who was named by the North Mianus school.  Led by Julie Cofone, a 5th grade teacher at North Mianus, the students mobilized the community and held the first annual “Walk for CHAMPS” fundraiser in 2011, raising enough funds to finish the campaign. Ms. Cofone is an inspirational teacher to those who know her and received MLI’s 2015 CHAMPS Teacher Award at the Clearing the Path Gala in Washington, DC. She and her students continue to participate in monthly video calls with students in Bosnia Herzegovina, Iraq, and Yemen. MDD Hawk helped save lives in Iraq thanks to the efforts of Ms. Cofone, her students, and the CHAMPS Connecticut community!


The Shadow Campaign

The Fifth Grade Students at the New Lebanon School and the John Vrabec Shadow Foundation sponsored MDD Shadow in 2008.  MDD Shadow served with the Lebanese Mine Action Center (LMAC), “sniffing out” landmines in Lebanon!


The Yankee Campaign

In 2011, the CHAMPS-Connecticut campaign sponsored MDD Yankee, who had a long career searching for landmines in Sri Lanka. After retirement, Yankee served as MLI's Canine Ambassador from 2011 to 2019!


The Kimberly Campaign

In 2012, the Parkinson Family and CHAMPS-Greensich Connecticut campaign sponsored MDD Kimberly. She served in Iraq and saved countless lives during her years of service!


The Connecticut Campaign

MDD Connecticut was donated to Bosnia in 2007. He was a very dedicated MDD, aiding the Office of Civil Protection of the Republic of Srpska in "sniffing out" landmines accross Bonsia-Herzegovina.

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