When the first annual Dogs for Vets Golf Scramble in Columbia City debuted in 2021, the driving force behind the charitable event wasn’t even old enough to drive a car.
That driver was Kendall Stuckey, and two years ago, she was just a freshman at Churubusco High School.
Growing up, Kendall’s mother instilled in her the importance of philanthropy and giving back to the community. And when she became a teenager, her mom encouraged her to find a local organization to support.
A chance meeting with her CrossFit trainer, a veteran with a service dog named Lady, set her on the path towards supporting the Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN).
Her trainer was a client of Our Turn To Serve (OTTS), a service dog organization in Fort Wayne that paired service dogs with local veterans in need. When Kendall expressed interest in learning more about OTTS, her trainer introduced her to the founders.
“I immediately clicked with them when we met,” Kendall remembered. “So, I started fundraising right away.”
Her initial goal was to raise enough money over her four high school years to sponsor one veteran and pay for their service dog.
But much to her surprise, she exceeded her goal in just one year – raising $12,500 and sponsoring a local veteran and his service dog, Twilight.
Initially, she sold homemade cookies and dog toys, and her grandfather sold woodwork at a craft bazaar to support OTTS. But what helped her surpass her goal so quickly was launching the Dogs for Vets Golf Scramble—a charity golf tournament with sponsors and raffles—that she led and coordinated. One hundred percent of the event’s proceeds supported OTTS and its mission.
To help raise awareness, Kendal even arranged interviews with local Fort Wayne media.
“I wanted everyone to know about the golf tournament,” she said. “More importantly, I wanted everyone to know about Our Turn to Serve.”
Now, two years later, the tournament has become a popular local event for the community, attracting sponsors, golfers, veterans, and even spectators—and it’s helped Kendall raise nearly $40,000 in a little over 24 months.
Since her last event, OTTS merged with ICAN to form ICAN’s new Veterans Service Division (VSD). As part of the merger, Kendall agreed to continue to support her local veterans by working with ICAN.
She and her mom have even begun furloughing and have helped train ICAN Turk and ICAN Albert.
Currently, she’s gearing up for the third annual Dogs for Vets Golf Scramble, which will be held on Friday, May 26, at 1 pm at Eel River Golf Course in Churubusco, Ind. All proceeds will support ICAN’s VSD, which provides service dogs for veterans in Indiana with service-related trauma specific to PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and military sexual trauma.
Because there is no placement fee for veterans matched with an ICAN service dog, fundraisers like Kendall’s golf tournament are essential in continuing ICAN’s efforts of providing hope and independence for those in need at an affordable cost.
ICAN supporters interested in helping Kendall and local veterans can do so by sponsoring a hole for $125, becoming a corporate sponsor for $500, $1,000, or $1,500, as well as providing raffle items for the Dogs for Vets Golf Scramble tournament.
New sponsors and raffle prizes will be accepted until May 15. All inquiries should be emailed to Kendall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to learn about other ways you can help unleash possibilities for our veterans, contact ICAN Veterans Service Division Training Manager Deborah Cotton at email@example.com.