This year, Clearwater Central Catholic High School junior Ryan Komara was honored with The President’s Call to Service Award. This national honor was created by the White House to inspire others to take positive action to change the world. As a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs, Ryan contributed over 1,000 hours of community service this past year. Southeastern Guide Dogs has been providing guide dog companions to visually impaired people for more than 30 years.
The President’s Call to Service Award recognizes the best in American spirit and encourages all Americans to improve their communities through volunteer service and civic participation. The award is given to individuals that have demonstrated outstanding volunteer service over the course of a 12-month period. Titus Herman, CEO of Southeastern Guide Dogs, presented Ryan with a certificate of achievement along with a Volunteer Service pin and a letter from the President of the United States.
The first year of each dog’s life is spent with their puppy raiser. Peter, a 15-week-old yellow Labrador Retriever, came to live with the Komara family last year. For the next 12 months Ryan dedicated himself to love, raise and teach the puppy basic obedience, while exposing the dog to a variety of people and places. Peter was often seen on CCC’s campus where he attended football dinners, cheered on the track team, and learned how to climb bleachers. He went on family vacations, visited college campuses and attended Sunday Mass at St. Ignatius Church. Raising Peter was a huge responsibility that required Ryan’s commitment to the strict rules and mandatory training classes designed by Southeastern Guide Dog trainers.
The Southeastern Guide Dog program trains puppies to assist those with disabilities. Ryan returned Peter to the campus for formal harness training at 14 months of age. When Peter is about 2 years old, he will be matched to an individual to provide them with companionship, mobility and independence. Ryan will be invited to a graduation ceremony where he will meet Peter’s “person” and say his final goodbye.
Service dogs like Peter are raised and trained all at no charge to the guide dog recipient thanks to the generous support of donors and volunteers like Ryan.