Karen Shirk of Xenia is the winner of the 2014 Rare Life Character Award from Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. As the winner, Eagle Rare is donating $4,000 to Shirk’s charity, 4 Paws for Ability – an organization Shirk founded to place service dogs with disabled children and with veterans who have lost limbs while on active duty.
Shirk was diagnosed with Myastenia Gravis (MG) in 1987, a rare neuromuscular disease, while studying to become a social worker. When agency after agency turned her away (due to the fact that she was on a ventilator), she set out to train a dog herself with the help of a certified dog trainer. This was the beginning of 4 Paws for Ability. Shirk places over 100 dogs a year including internationally.
The Rare Life Award is an annual recognition program created to honor individuals who exhibit courage, leadership, survival, devotion, character and heroism. Shirk was among 191 submissions and one of six receiving $4,000. STAFF REPORT
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