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Baseball is Therapy

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When we took our daughter to see the Harrisburg Senators at Metro Bank Park there was a bit of uncertainty involved.  Maybe more than just a bit.  We were looking for something that she would enjoy and that might catch her attention.  You see, she is autistic.  She tends to be wary of anyone not in her immediate family and prefers quiet surroundings.  A lot of effort has been expended in hopes of increasing her interactions with other people and we held a lot of hope that having a team to root for would bring that out.

For quite a bit of the game she really wanted to be anywhere else but at the ballpark.  It was too hot; it was too light; it was too noisy; and it was still too hot.  We held out and paid a visit to the team store where she and mom picked up some Senators gear.  We also picked up a baseball since we were at a ballgame.  We grabbed some hot dogs at the stand and managed to last through the game.

We had walked down from our seats to an area over by the dugout since she wanted to talk to a player.  Unfortunately they had already headed into the clubhouse and she was beginning to get upset.  A young boy walked over and told us “…the players come out and sign stuff after the game over by the locker room.  I can show you where that is if you would like.”

Shortly after one of the players, Sean Nicol (#8), came out and was signing autographs for the people outside the locker room.  He noticed our daughter standing back away from everyone else with her baseball in her hand.  He came over to her and asked he if she would like him to sign her ball for her.  She nodded yet, looking a bit unsure of what she had just agreed to and handed over her baseball.  It was signed and handed back to her and he spent a few minutes talking with her, said see you later and walked toward the parking lot.  She came over and said “he was really nice.”   And with that we headed to the parking lot as well.

In the parking lot she spied another person she felt was one of the players and asked if she could ask him to sign her baseball.  With a nod from mom she walked over and began to talk with Steven Souza, Jr.  Turns out he was from Washington state, very close to where we had just moved from.  The two of them hit it off splendidly.

So began our journey along the road of professional baseball.  We have really enjoyed the people we have met so far and I hope to capture some of that here.

Baseball is therapy.



Been a while

Wow! Just got to looking at the page and it certainly has been a while since I have written anything and even longer since I have posted anything up.

Will have to see about correcting that.

I really do have a lot to talk about – I am just not sure how much of it is really something you want to read. Good thing that this is a blog and you can leave if you get bored.

Thanks for sticking around.

In the next few weeks I will start building an entertainment console for our living room since I can’t seem to find one that is what we (mostly me) wants for the room. It will be a “floating” one that is 8 feet long and 2 feet tall with two shelves and a few compartments.


Your Logo Here

Today’s post is in support of Kids Are Heroes, Inc., a non-profit that empowers, encourages and inspires children to become leaders through volunteerism and community involvement.

They are less than two months away from the 5th annual Kids Are Heroes Day which will be celebrated at the Francis Scott Key Mall in Frederick, MD on October 27th, 2012.  They are looking for someone to step forward and claim the title of “Official Sponsor

Can you help them find the Official Sponsor.  This is a great opportunity for a local business since the attendees will be in the local area.  There are kids coming from all across the United States, Canda, and Trinidad & Tobago which also makes a national company a good fit for the position.

For more information please see the following post by Gabe O’Neill, President of Kids Are Heroes, Inc. – Your Logo Here.


Service Dog Scam: Where does GlobalGiving.org stand?

GlobalGiving.org awarded Lea Kaydus, founder of Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism “program”, a $50,000 Pepsi Refresh grant back in July 2011 (must have been a typo on their site) that had 10 families beyond ecstatic.  And then the whole “program” began to deteriorate.  GlobalGiving.org was contacted numerous times, by multiple families, and yet maintained Lea Kaydus would in fact be able to deliver.  The grant period for which GlobalGiving.org was a mere 9 months, with the culmination of the project set for April 2012 when the dogs would be delivered.  As of this date (August 26, 2012) not a single “highly-trained”, autism service dog has been delivered.

Come to think of it, not a single trained, autism service dog has been delivered, nor heck, not even a single dog – trained or otherwise.  GlobalGiving.org gave Lea Kaydus $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Everything Program and let her run, accountable to none.  Which well-deserving programs lost out due to the fraud Lea Kaydus perpetrated? GlobalGiving.org’s stance on this has been oddly similar to sticking their head in the sand and hoping that it will all go away.  The Attorney General of Illinois, when presented with the same facts as GlobalGiving.org’s leadership, saw it very differently.  Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit in Sangamon County Court on Thursday, August 24, 2012.

The following is an excerpt from GlobalGiving.org’s GlobalGoodness Blog

Over the last few months we’ve heard the concerns raised regarding a $50,000 grant awarded to an individual, Lea Kaydus, in July 2010. The project is to provide ten trained dogs to families of autistic children free of charge. Activities funded under this grant include the construction of a new canine training facility and costs associated with the training of the dogs.
We do not take any expression of concern lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that grant activities are implemented as they were intended. We have been thoughtfully evaluating the situation specific to this grant, in addition to overseeing many other projects that are still actively pursuing their goals. As with all Pepsi Refresh Grants, GlobalGiving monitors project activities to ensure compliance with the terms of the grant agreement. We have been in regular contact with the grantee throughout the grant period (including a recent site visit), and she is in compliance with the terms of her grant agreement and is scheduled to deliver the dogs to the requesting families starting in Spring 2012.
We understand that for the families involved, the care of their children is their foremost concern. We stand firm in our commitment to do everything we can to support the grantee to help bring this project to fruition. We have also encouraged the grantee to be in more regular communication with the families going forward, to which she has agreed. We ask everyone involved to please refrain from personal attacks and understand that the grantee is doing all she can to accomplish her goals with this project.

GlobalGiving.org now maintains the position that the grant administration period has ended, that Lea Kaydus met the “spirit” of the grant to the best of her ability and they no longer have any responsibility/concern in regards to this grant awardee.  They provided the funds for a backyard Siberian Husky/Alaskan Klee Kai  breeder to build a new kennel/breeding facility on her brother-in-law’s property to further her own families ability to exploit others.  So many lies and half-truths told to the families who were supposed to be recipients of the “service animals” Lea Kaydus was “training” by Lea Kaydus, and the staff at GlobalGiving.org administering this grant. Her autism service dog scam is beyond despicable.  When you think that she utilized disabled, autistic children and their parents in the process makes it even that much worse.  Imagine if it were your child that was used for this purpose.

I would like to take a moment to highlight two of GlobalGiving.org’s Core Values:

1.  Listen. Act. Learn. Repeat.
We continually experiment. We fail quickly and productively. We use data and feedback to guide our course.

2. Committed to WOW
We act promptly, enthusiastically, and professionally so people are WOW-ed by their interactions with us.

I hope that the last year has provided you with lots of usable feedback.  I have been WOW-ed by my interaction with you, and NOT in a good way.  I am amazed at how quickly you sought to “protect” your own position rather than acknowledge the truth.  The dealings with K.C. Ellis, grant administrator for Lea Kaydus’ grant, gave me the impression that I was merely an annoyance that must be dealt with before the next shopping trip to the District could be planned and executed.  I hope that others are not treated the same way.

I would love to know if you still are proud to have worked with someone the caliber of Lea Kaydus and her Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism program.



Service Dog Fiasco Bites Lea Kaydus

On Thursday the Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, filed suit on behalf of several families across the country who were bilked out of thousands of dollars by Glenarm, IL “autism service dog trainer”, Lea Kaydus.

For Immediate Release Media Contact: Maura Possley 

August 23, 2012 312-814-3118 


Follow OAG on: 



Attorney General: Proposed Judgment to Require Downstate Woman to Reimburse Families Waiting for Service Dogs 

Springfield – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit and a proposed consent judgment against a downstate woman who cheated families across the country out of thousands of dollars in payments for service dogs to assist children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Madigan filed her lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against Glenarm resident Lea Kaydus and her organization, Animals for Autism. The lawsuit alleges that for more than a year, Kaydus solicited donations and payments from families in Illinois and around the country to match them with specially trained dogs to serve as companions for their children. To date, Madigan said, none of the families who paid for the service has received a trained dog as promised by Kaydus. 

Madigan’s lawsuit states that Kaydus’ Animals for Autism advertised it would specially train Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies for $3,000 to $8,000 and then pair the dogs with families to assist their children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kaydus promised families that they initially would be introduced to their dog in person or via teleconference calls and then would receive frequent updates until the dogs were trained and ready to be placed in families’ homes. 

Families in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, California and Washington sent payments to Kaydus and were led to believe over the course of several months that Kaydus was training dogs to place in their homes. In some cases, families received pictures of puppies, though those images were taken years earlier and depicted dogs that weren’t involved in Kaydus’ supposed training program. One family received a photo of a puppy that was purportedly born in 2011, though Madigan’s investigation revealed the picture was actually taken in 2007. 

Madigan said Kaydus has collected at least $5,190 from families in the scheme. The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and Solicitation for Charity Act against Kaydus and her organization. The proposed consent judgment filed with Madigan’s lawsuit would require that Kaydus provide restitution to affected families. 

Assistant Attorney General Melodi Green handled this case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau. 

A copy of the suit filed can be found by clicking HERE if you are interested in reading it.  To make a quick summary: the suit, filed in Sangamon County Court, alleges “numerous violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and Solicitation for Charity Act” against Lea Kaydus and her organization, Animals for Autism [a part of Siberian Snow Babies].  At this time Kaydus has agreed to a consent judgement requiring her to reimburse the families.  However, the settlement must still be approved by the Sangamon County judge, who could still impose additional sanctions including stiff penalties of up to $50,000 per violation.

Since the initial press release issued by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, there have been multiple news outlets which have carried this story.  The story was initially carried as an exclusive update by WICS NewsChannel 20 Springfield, Illinois by Mike Brooks.  It has since been featured in the Chicago Tribune in an article by Monica Eng, and in the Kitsap Sun in an article by Chris Henry.  There have been several other blog posts written –

A win I suppose.  I hope that she is not able to ever do this to anyone ever again.  Wishful thinking?? Possibly.

Please share.  Your voice can make a difference.

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It has been a while since my last post on this subject.  I have been waiting, albeit somewhat impatiently, but waiting for some resolution of this debacle.

**If you are unfamiliar with this story I would ask that you visit Dogs with a Cause for a quick recap**

We are now beyond the anticipated delivery date for the Autism Service Dogs that Lea Kaydus had promised to over 10 families back in June of 2011.  These dogs, their training, and accessories were being funded through a combination of private donations secured by Lea Kaydus, as founder of the Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism program, and a very generous $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project.  The administrators of the Pepsi grant, GlobalGiving.org, assured families that the dogs would in fact be delivered as promised despite any temporary setbacks.

Still not a single service dog delivered.

GlobalGiving.org has removed themselves from the picture since the project has proceeded beyond the 9 month monitoring window.  They no longer have any interest in Lea Kaydus or these Autism Service Dogs she had promised to deliver.  It is not their problem.  I wish I had known it was that easy to get $50,000 from Pepsi.  I bet I could have come up with a fantastic project that would have pulled at the heartstrings of many people.  I could have worked with a local distributer, local recycling company to acquire Pepsi bottlecaps with Power Vote codes.  Maybe I could have offered to place free highly-trained Autism Service Dogs with a group of young, autistic children…wait, that has been done.  Then again, it worked.

Lea Kaydus, her husband, George, and both their enterprises (Siberian Snow Babies & Animals for Autism of Illinois) have been reported to the Better Business Bureau, the Illinois Attorney General and all of the Autism Service Referral places that I have found her registered.  I have come to accept that I will not ever get an apology from Lea Kaydus let alone any of the money that I paid her expecting a trained autism service dog in return.  Neither will any of the other families.  Hard lesson learned.

I hope that the Illinois Attorney General is not just going to let this be.  I hope there will be some repercussion for her actions.  At a minimum she defrauded 11 families throughout the United States.  I believe that her marks included families outside the United States to include Australia, New Zealand, and England.  She preyed on the hopes and dreams of families who did not have extra to lose.  Wish I had better news.  Do not intend to ever let this go, even once I move on.


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Run Down: Health Matters

Not really sure what it was that got me. Over the last couple of days I have felt my energy lagging and those little aches and pains have been just that much more insufferable. I know there are those who would say that it is merely Father Time catching up to me – I refuse to believe that.  I think that there is a way through a healthy lifestyle that I can slow the progression and get myself back on track.

Here’s to a road back to good health.  In the meantime – just keep swimming, because that’s what I will be doing now that I can’t really run.

More to follow. Please stay tuned.

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I am not going to take any time to rehash the story – it has not changed since the first time, if this is your first time visiting the site please see the summary posted on our Dogs with a Cause site.  I have been trying to bring to light to what I feel has been a serious shortcoming in an otherwise beneficial community relations project – Pepsi’s Refresh Everything Project.

Lea Kaydus, and her Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism “program” has all but disappeared from the face of the planet.  She has removed the website in its entirety, removed the main Facebook page (although there are other pages that are listed as “private pages” that still exist) and does not want to admit any wrongdoing on her part.  She took advantage of countless parents of special needs children, promising them that she would provide a highly trained service dog to assist their child.  She recruited the help of thousands in her quest to become a grantee in the Pepsi Refresh Everything project – sending out daily reminders to vote and encouraging her supporters to recruit additional help.  And then she was awarded the $50,000 from Pepsi.

And then there was celebrating; especially those who were supporting her campaign day-in and day-out.  Maybe not as much as Lea Kaydus and her family though.  Soon after the announcement that they had achieved their grant there was silence.


If we thought we were not hearing any updates before this point we were seriously mistaken.  However, we were assured by the grant administrators that all was well.  It would not be too much longer, just be patient.  Concerns were voiced to them, and ignored.  All was well – we only had to trust.

The Office of the Attorney General of Illinois has been involved.  Ms. Kaydus has committed fraud – she promised a service, promised goods, collected monies and has provided nothing except excuses.  It has now been 15 months since we began this path with Lea and George Kaydus and their Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism program.  Fifteen months and yet she has not yet managed to deliver even ONE fully trained service dog to any one of the families with which she had an agreement.  She has managed to sell puppies on PuppyFind.com and post ads up on eBay and elsewhere.  I can only assume that she has successfully sold puppies through those venues as well.  At one point she claimed that it was due to lack of money to continue to care & train the dogs.  I would like to point out that Lea and George Kaydus received $50,000 from Pepsi through the Pepsi Refresh Project to do just that.  They chose to spend that money to build and upgrade their “facility” instead.  They very publicly announced on Facebook that since the grant was awarded to Lea Kaydus as an individual that she could spend the money in the way that she saw fit.  I am sure that more people would have “participated” as grant applicants had they realized that Pepsi would give them money, especially in that amount, that they would not be held accountable for how it was utilized.

The grant administrator for Lea Kaydus at GlobalGiving.org, KC Ellis, even made a trip to the new “facility” after more of the families began to complain and ask for help.  She reportedly saw  dogs being actively trained.  This next section is an excerpt from GlobalGiving.org’s Facebook wall.

Kelly S
Why are you not responding to the questions being asked about the Animals for Autism Pepsi Refresh Grant fiasco? It’s about time for Global Giving and Pepsi to admit that they made a mistake in supporting Lea Kaydus and Animals for Autism and do something to make it right for the CHILDREN!
Like · · Yesterday at 9:42am ·


Hi Kelly, we appreciate your concern for the families involved with this grant. We wrote a blog post about our monitoring process here: http://blog.globalgiving.org/2012/01/27/animals-for-autism/
We are listening and we still have an open offer to any of the families who are still involved with the program to discuss their concerns one-on-one. The blog questions that you’re referring to span across a number of issues/people but we’d be happy to address the ones that we can.
19 hours ago · Like

Kelly S

then why haven’t you or Lea Kaydus provided pictures or video of the dogs in training? why haven’t the families been better informed during this process? why did she go “off the grid” multiple times including now – her website and facebook page were taken down? if you supposedly did a site evaluation/inspection we not post pictures of the site – surely you took pictures of the dogs being trained in their new facility. this whole thing smells fishy. can you say COVER UP???!!!!
18 hours ago · Like


We can only speak for ourselves. As the grant administrator, GlobalGiving is trying to balance our commitment to transparency with the grantee’s right to privacy. We fully appreciate that the lack of public information is very frustrating for the families. We can say, based on our contact and site visit, that she is in compliance with the terms of her grant agreement and is scheduled to deliver the dogs to the requesting families starting in Spring 2012. As noted in our blog post, we stand firm in our commitment to do everything we can to support the grantee to help bring this project to fruition. We have also encouraged the grantee to be in more regular communication with the families going forward, to which she has agreed.
16 hours ago · Like

Spring of 2012 has come and gone.  We are now into Summer 2012 and yet nothing from Lea Kaydus.  No training updates to any of the families.  No expected graduation dates for the dogs she has in “training” for them.  No contact whatsoever.

GlobalGiving.org and Pepsi have both washed their hands of this.  It is now outside the grant period.  As far as GlobalGiving.org is concerned Lea Kaydus utilized the grant she was awarded properly and in the “spirit” of the grant.  Forget that she merely expanded her backyard breeding program.

If this is what corporate responsibility has become, I am not impressed.  At this point, I hope that the Illinois Attorney General’s office will pursue criminal charges against Ms. Lea Kaydus.  Her “program” was nothing more than a service dog scam which took more from the families involved than just money.  She robbed them of hope in a better future for their children and trampled on the trust that was given her.


Memorial Day: Lest We Forget

The photo, taken by New York Times's Todd Heisler while he was a staff photographer at Rocky Mountain News in 2005. The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her.
The night before the burial of her husband, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the coffin, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her.
Todd Heisler/The Rocky Mountain News, via Associated Press
The night before the burial of her husband, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the coffin, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her.

I would like to leave you with one final picture as Memorial Day comes to a close.  A reminder that for many it is not just a day and the remembrance lasts throughout the year.  There are many who have lost a part of them that can never be replaced.  The photo above was taken by photographer Todd Heisler and is from his 2005 award-wining series for The Rocky Mountain News, “Jim Comes Home.”

And from The Rocky Mountain News special report Final Salute by Jim Sheeler
©2005 Rocky Mountain News the story that precedes the photo.

Inside a limousine parked on the airport tarmac, Katherine Cathey looked out at the clear night sky and felt a kick.

“He’s moving,” she said. “Come feel him. He’s moving.”

Her two best friends leaned forward on the soft leather seats and put their hands on her stomach.

“I felt it,” one of them said. “I felt it.”

Outside, the whine of jet engines swelled.

“Oh, sweetie,” her friend said. “I think this is his plane.”

As the three young women peered through the tinted windows, Katherine squeezed a set of dog tags stamped with the same name as her unborn son:

James J. Cathey.

“He wasn’t supposed to come home this way,” she said, tightening her grip on the tags, which were linked by a necklace to her husband’s wedding ring.

The women looked through the back window. Then the 23-year-old placed her hand on her pregnant belly.

“Everything that made me happy is on that plane,” she said.

They watched as airport workers rolled a conveyor belt to the rear of the plane, followed by six solemn Marines.

Katherine turned from the window and closed her eyes.

“I don’t want it to be dark right now. I wish it was daytime,” she said. “I wish it was daytime for the rest of my life. The night is just too hard.”

Suddenly, the car door opened. A white-gloved hand reached into the limousine from outside – the same hand that had knocked on Katherine’s door in Brighton five days earlier.

The man in the deep blue uniform knelt down to meet her eyes, speaking in a soft, steady voice.

“Katherine,” said Maj. Steve Beck, “it’s time.”

Closer than brothers

The American Airlines 757 couldn’t have landed much farther from the war.

The plane arrived in Reno on a Friday evening, the beginning of the 2005 “Hot August Nights” festival – one of the city’s biggest – filled with flashing lights, fireworks, carefree music and plenty of gambling.

When a young Marine in dress uniform had boarded the plane to Reno, the passengers smiled and nodded politely. None knew he had just come from the plane’s cargo hold, after watching his best friend’s casket loaded onboard.

At 24 years old, Sgt. Gavin Conley was only seven days younger than the man in the coffin. The two had met as 17-year-olds on another plane – the one to boot camp in California. They had slept in adjoining top bunks, the two youngest recruits in the barracks.

All Marines call each other brother. Conley and Jim Cathey could have been. They finished each other’s sentences, had matching infantry tattoos etched on their shoulders, and cracked on each other as if they had grown up together – which, in some ways, they had.

When the airline crew found out about Conley’s mission, they bumped him to first-class. He had never flown there before. Neither had Jim Cathey.

On the flight, the woman sitting next to him nodded toward his uniform and asked if he was coming or going. To the war, she meant.

He fell back on the words the military had told him to say: “I’m escorting a fallen Marine home to his family from the situation in Iraq.”

The woman quietly said she was sorry, Conley said.

Then she began to cry.

When the plane landed in Nevada, the pilot asked the passengers to remain seated while Conley disembarked alone. Then the pilot told them why.

The passengers pressed their faces against the windows. Outside, a procession walked toward the plane. Passengers in window seats leaned back to give others a better view. One held a child up to watch.

From their seats in the plane, they saw a hearse and a Marine extending a white-gloved hand into a limousine, helping a pregnant woman out of the car.

On the tarmac, Katherine Cathey wrapped her arm around the major’s, steadying herself. Then her eyes locked on the cargo hold and the flag-draped casket.

Inside the plane, they couldn’t hear the screams.


Get Your Boots On! Join the Boot Campaign.


Memorial Day weekend is this weekend and today I would like to highlight an incredible grass-roots initiative started by five phenomenal women from Texas collectively known as the Boot Girls.  Please take a few moments out of your day, and get to know a little about them and their cause.  Their work continues to touch many lives and you can be a part.

And rather than spend a lot of time retelling their story – I would encourage you to click on the picture above and visit their site.  Explore their site, join in the growing chorus of musicians, entertainers, athletes, celebrities and everyday people and get YOUR boots on!

You can find them on Facebook and Twitter; check out the photos on Flickr and the videos on YouTube.