Each year, the Marshall Legacy Institute hosts the Clearing the Path Gala in Washington, D.C. This is a very exciting week for MLI's Canine Ambassador, MDD Rico.
Rico arrived in Arlington on Sunday afternoon. That evening, he met the Handler of the Year, Sajed Majeed. Sajed and his Explosive Detection Dog Marschall are the 2023 EDD Team of the Year. Due to the long trip from Iraq, EDD Marschall was not able to attend the gala. Rico had the honor of representing EDD Marschall at demonstrations and presentations throughout the week.
On Monday, MLI staff, Clearing the Path award recipients, and representatives from Bosnia and Kurdistan visited Glenelg Country School in Howard County, Maryland. Marija Trlin Survivors' Award Recipient, Goran Dizdarevic, spoke to students about how he lost his leg at the age of twelve years old in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Goran spoke about courage, the people who helped him overcome challenges, and helped him become the successful person he is today. Students learned about the amazing work EDD Marschall and his handler, Sajed, do in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Sajed and Rico demonstrated how dogs sniff for explosive odors using a mock field and training device. The GCS CHAMPS club, under the direction of Mrs. Jen Cope, joined all of the guests and school administration during a special luncheon donated by Chick-fil-A and Glenelg Country School. Approximately 900 students and faculty were present at the three presentations hosted at the school. This visit to Glenelg Country School was very special for several reasons.
EDD Marschall - Dog Team of the Year is a GCS sponsored dog (2018)
GCS Lower School CHAMPS Club raised enough money to sponsor their 9th dog – ONLY single school in the world to accomplish this!
New mine detection dog will be named MDD Dean after Sheena Jordan’s uncle who was killed by a landmine in Vietnam.
JonPaul Marschall completed his campaign to raise funds for survivor assistance. With his funds, a young lady in Bosnia received a prosthetic leg.
Rico and Goran were welcomed at the Bosnian Embassy by Ambassador Sven Alkalaj and his staff. This was a great opportunity for Goran to be celebrated and for MLI to share information about their successful partnership through the Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS) with the Mine Detection Dog Center of Bosnia-Herzegovina (MDDC). CHAMPS students in both countries virtually connect once a month to share information about their cultures and countries as they realize their similarities and differences. Kelly Matanin, Program Manager covering Europe in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement at the U.S. Department of State was also present at the embassy. The United States Department's WRA generously provides funding for MLI's CHAMPS Bosnia Program. 🇺🇸
Gala Day was so much fun! Rico enjoyed his time at the Ritz as the MLI staff set up for the Clearing the Path Gala. Rico had his very own corner where guests could pet him, take a picture with him, and purchase his book. The ballroom was just beautiful, and the food was delicious. At the end of the ceremony, Rico went on stage with Sajed to do a demonstration. It was a great evening, and Rico looked amazing in his tux!
The day after the gala, Rico met two wonderful young girls who created the "Stevie Dog" in honor of their grandfather. The dogs were sold at the gala to raise money for a real mine detection dog, and Rico enjoyed meeting Aristen and Simone.
Gala Week 2023 was awesome. Rico met many wonderful people and did his best to showcase the amazing work MLI is doing in mine action and survivors assistance.