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Rico and MLI CHAMPS Team Travel North for Spring Visits

Updated: May 16

The Marshall Legacy Institute's K9 Ambassador, Rico traveled to Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Connecticut for the MLI Spring CHAMPS tour. During the spring tour, Rico and MLI CHAMPS team members Tamara Klingsheim and Anne Wooleyhand traveled close to 1800 miles, made 10 appearances to more than 800 people in 3 different states. The presentations took place at 4 schools, a public library, and a senior residence home.

The first day of the tour took the team to St. Francis Central Catholic School in Morgantown, West Virginia. Students in 4th - 8th grades gathered to learn how a puppy becomes a mine detection dog. The students asked great questions and were so respectful during the presentation. Following the presentation, Rico enjoyed pets from the 100+ students in attendance. Later in the afternoon, the team had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. McCardle's after school art class. The creativity of the students in her class was truly impressive. This group of students is creating artwork to support the Marshall Legacy Institute and to raise awareness of the heroic work of mine detection dogs like Rico.

The Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling welcomed the CHAMPS team to their Lunch with BooKs event. The group of about 50 adults came to see Rico and learn about his work. They were a very engaged group, and Rico received a very warm welcome. Thanks to our host, Sean Duffy, Rico even received a Pittsburgh Pirates jersey, locally made mug, and Lunch with Books bag.

The CHAMPS team then traveled to St. Edmund's Academy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Thanks to Marian Lien and Kirsten Mahoney, the team received a warm welcome as they visited four different groups at the school. The first presentation was to primary students who are learning about service animals and how they contribute to their communities. After learning about the work Rico did in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is now doing in the United States, the students were able to identify similarities and differences with a seeing eye dog they had met the previous week. Rico demonstrated his sniffing skills, and the children were all able to pet him on the way back to their classes. Following that demonstration, Rico visited a pre-kindergarten class and a 2nd grade art class. Our last group of the day was with students from the upper grades of the school. Students enjoyed a presentation about the work MLI does and they then connected this information to their study of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

The final stop for the spring tour was in Greenwich, Connecticut. In the morning, 3rd grade students from Greenwich Country Day School attended a presentation about how a mine detection dog is selected, trained and assigned to a country. Rico demonstrated his sniffing skills before the students showed him some love on their way out of the assembly area. Rico and the team then went on to North Mianus School for his largest presentation of the trip. Close to 400 students and teachers attended a presentation about MLI's signature education program, CHAMPS (Children Against Mines Program). Rico also did a demonstration and was super patient as the students each pet him on their way out of the assembly. It was an honor for the team to be interviewed by students from the school newspaper. The final stop of the spring tour was a visit with our friends at Hill House Senior Living Residence. Rico always receives so much love during our visits with the seniors and staff at Hill House.


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