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CHAMPS Connecticut

CHAMPS Connecticut was first launched in 2005 with the help and leadership of Betsy Parkinson. Over the last 13 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 $160,000 to send 14 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 $200,000. 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 fourteen 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

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

The Nibs Campaign

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


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 were able to finish the campaign before the end of the school year! They have chosen to name the dog MDD Emily, in honor of a North Mianus student, Emily Fedorko, who tragically passed away recently.

MDD Emily is currently working in Bosnia Herzegovina, “sniffing out” landmines and saving lives.


The Cosby Campaign

MDD Cosby is fully funded! Students from The New Brunswick School in Greenwich, CT raised enough money to make MDD Cosby a reality. He is named 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 3238 miles to raise money for Cosby. Harris fundraised $9,865 during his 3 months 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. His efforts helped complete funding for MDD Cosby, who is now “sniffing out” mines in Bosnia.


The Tiger Pride Campaign

Lisa Hires, a student from Greenwich Country Day School, led a campaign to sponsor a dog she and her classmates have decided to name 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 & 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 has joined MDD Cosby in Bosnia, where both dogs are saving 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, 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, who is now working 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 is working in Iraq and has saved 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 travelled 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 travelled to Konjic in Bosnia with the rest of the Donor Delegation to visit the MDDC Center for Bosnia where she “interviewed” all 6 dogs training to be deployed to Lebanon and selected her NutmegNutmeg worked in Lebanon for 8 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 the dog flew to the U.S. from Lebanon!


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 has been 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 Bosnia Herzegovina, Iraq, and Yemen. MDD Hawk is saving lives in Iraq thanks to the efforts of Ms. Cofone, her students, and the CHAMPS Connecticut community!


The Shadow Campaign

New Lebanon School (fifth grade students) and the John Vrabec Shadow Foundation sponsored MDD Shadow in 2008.  MDD Shadow is now “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. Yankee is currently serving as MLI's Canine Ambassador!


The Kimberly Campaign

In 2012, the CHAMPS-Connecticut campaign sponsored MDD Kimberly, who is now working in Iraq and saving countless lives!


The Connecticut Campaign


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