For years Michelle Breach and her husband Peter, veteran long-distance runners, dreamed of running/walking across the US. She wanted it to be more than a feat of stamina though, and soon realized a cause was right at the end of a leash. In 2017, Michelle joined HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, a nationwide organization that provides support and encouragement to people affected by crises and disasters. Along with her HOPE canine partner Kip, and her human partner Peter, Michelle left Carlsbad, CA, on September 9, 2023, with her sights set on arriving at Jekyll Island, GA, in the new year.
This journey was initially planned for 2021, but health issues and the unfortunate death of her HOPE dog, Geb, delayed the trip. The thought never left her mind, and in 2023, Michelle and her new dog Kip went through an extensive evaluation and three-day training workshop to become a new certified canine-handler team. HOPE AACR has approximately 300 all-volunteer teams across the U.S. and Canada to provide assistance to first responders and other responding agencies in addition to clients when disasters affect their communities. Recently HOPE teams responded to the mass shooting in Maine, Hurricane Idalia, and numerous other local, regional, and national responses.
Raising money and awareness was a central theme to Michelle’s journey. “The most fun and gratifying part of this journey has been meeting and speaking with so many people. They have been so gracious and supportive when they hear what we are doing and why,” says Michelle.
Michelle culminates the journey at Jekyll Island in mid-January and invites the community to join her last steps. Follow her journey on Facebook HOPE Across America Walk-Kip and learn more about HOPE AACR, HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response – Comfort in Times of Crisis.
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