Foundation named for Bellbrook crash victim helps animals and veterans

Local News

WASHINGTON TWP., Ohio (WDTN) – More than six years after her death, Sophie Kerrigan’s family is honoring her memory by transforming lives.

Sophie Kerrigan’s For the Love of Animals Foundation, started in 2016, is named for the Bellbrook High School student killed in a 2012 accident. Kerrigan was 17 when her and two friends died in car crash in Sugarcreek Township.

Kerrigan’s mother, Janet Carpenter, said the foundation is a fitting tribute because Kerrigan had a life-long passion for animals. 

“I know what she’s thinking; she’s so happy,” Carpenter said of her daughter. “She’s smiling all of the time.”

The organization’s program, Sophie’s Companions for Veterans, pairs rescue animals with veterans living with mental illness or other disabilities.

Kim Edwards, a 21-year Air Force veteran and recent recipient of a companion dog, explained she was struggling with debilitating PTSD after leaving the military.

“I could leave the house without having a panic attack. (It caused) the depression and the loneliness,” Edwards said.

One V.A. study found up to 22 veterans like Edwards commit suicide daily, and she says she was dangerously close to joining that statistic.

“I would’ve been one of those if it hadn’t been for her and the intervention of Sophie’s Companions for Veterans,” said Edwards.

After receiving a companion dog, Emma, Edwards said she experience a complete transformation and improved quality of life.

Kerrigan’s mother and the foundation founder said the initiative is a welcome distraction from the loss of her daughter.

“It takes so much of the pain away from losing Sophie,” said Carpenter. “I just don’t let that negative get into my mind or my heart anymore because I don’t have time for it.”

Edwards said the program continues to make a lasting impact.

“It’s been a blessing… that out of tragedy such wonderful things could come,” she said.

You can support the organization at an upcoming event:

Sophie Kerrigan’s For the Love of Animals fundraiser

  • Friday, June 1st, 2018 from 6:00 p.m.- 10:30 p.m.
  • Austin Landing 3601 Rigby Rd Suite 310, Miamisburg, OH 45342
  • Admission: $5
  • Entertainment includes Elton John tribute band “Yellow Brick Road” and local band “Stranger”
  • Bring chairs, blankets for fun under stars

You can find more information about the foundation here.

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