Lone Star Chapter

South Central Region

About Our Chapter

The Lone Star Chapter was established in early 2015 after a group of dedicated volunteers voted to form an organized Canine Companions chapter. Our chapter serves the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and consists of volunteers, puppy raisers, graduate teams and donors who actively work to support the mission of Canine Companions.

The goals of our chapter are to:

  • Grow chapter membership by raising public awareness of Canine Companions.
  • Recruit individuals enthused about and dedicated to raising future assistance dogs.
  • Provide financial support for Canine Companions through fundraising.
  • Maintain a vibrant, positive presence in the community by giving presentations and demonstrations about Canine Companions.
  • Show support to all who share the passion and pursue the mission of Canine Companions.

The Lone Star Chapter is proud to be an extension of the sixth and newest regional training center for Canine Companions for Independence. Located in Irving, Texas, the Kinkeade Campus is the first partnership between Canine Companions and Baylor, Scott & White Health Care System. The South Central Training Center offers ideal facilities for providing professional training for assistance dogs and preparing graduate teams for their lives together. The campus has 24 kennels for Canine Companions dogs and six cabins specially designed to accommodate those participating in Team Training.

We are always in need of additional puppy raisers. Puppy raisers donate their time and effort in the care and socialization of assistance dog candidates. Raisers spend countless hours teaching their pups basic commands and good house behaviors to prepare them for their future job. Our chapter provides a community of support, allowing you to give back while being paid in unconditional love and puppy kisses. It is a job that is both warm and fuzzy! If you would like to learn more about puppy raising and our other volunteer efforts, please contact us.

2018 Chapter Leadership Team

Gary Boyd, President

Gary and Canine Companions service dog Sorley are graduates from the May 2014 class. Gary is a charter member of the Lone Star Chapter, taking leadership roles in 2016 as Graduate Liaison and 2017 as Vice President.

Dawn Thompson, Vice President

Dawn has been involved with Canine Companions since 2013 as a volunteer puppy raiser and is currently raising Orbit, who is her second puppy. Dawn has been an active member of the leadership team the last two years as a Co-Chair of Fundraising and the head of Yappy Hour Committees.

Michelle Sudduth, Treasurer/Secretary

Michelle is a native Texan and is currently raising Danny III, a lab/golden cross. Michelle is a retired educator who enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

Debra Worley, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

Debra grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and attended Oklahoma State University. As a 17-year DFW resident, Debra has attended every Canine Companions graduation since November 2015. She started volunteering soon after in February 2016.

Carolyn Weinzirl, Volunteer Engagement Assistant

Carolyn is a retired teacher from Missouri who loves to volunteer. She puppy sits, bathes puppies, helps with campus tours and helps staff with anything that's needed.

Erin LaMonte, Puppy Raiser Recruitment Coordinator

Erin is a nine-time puppy raiser and has been involved with the Lone Star Chapter from its conception after moving from Southern California three years ago. In addition to her current role, Erin has served as Vice President and Communications Coordinator these last three years.

Rebecca Abshire, Fundraising Event Coordinator

Rebecca chaired the Yappy Hour Committee and was an active contributor to the Events and Fundraising team in 2017. Rebecca works at UPS, and in her spare time, enjoys walking her dogs, antiquing and visiting local wineries.

Kyle Koontz, Fundraising Event Assistant

After volunteering and attending a couple of Canine Companions events (i.e., Dog Fest, Graduation and Yappy Hour), Kyle decided to pursue a leadership position where he could play a bigger role in coordination of events and fundraising. Kyle works at Salesforce, is an Irving resident and is married to Leah. They have two Australian Shepherds, Ben and Leo.

Sarah Mattina, DogFest Chair

Sarah recently graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Spanish and is a former puppy raiser for 4 Paws for Ability. Sarah is new to the Dallas area and is currently working as a curriculum developer at Southwest Airlines.

Sydney Daniels, Communications Coordinator

Sydney has been a volunteer puppy raiser and just recently celebrated the graduation of her first puppy, Evita II. She currently works as the Email and PR Manager for an online travel agency. Sydney is a huge Kentucky Wildcat fan and loves to travel.

Kaitlyn Beckert, Website Communications Coordinator

Even though Kaitlyn is raising her first puppy with Canine Companions, she has raised several pups with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Kaitlyn works as a web designer at an advertising agency in Lubbock, Texas. When she is not at her 9-5, Kaitlyn enjoys photography, hiking and cheering on the TCU Horned Frogs.

Debbie Bringhurst, Puppy Coordinator

Debbie came to CCI in 2015 to share her prior puppy raising experience from two other organizations. With the return of her first retired service dog, she no longer raises puppies but wanted to share her knowledge with new raisers through the Welcome Wagon Committee and by organizing outings. She has also been volunteering the past 12 years in Baylor Scott & White’s Pet Therapy program. She and husband Mark live in Keller with pups Ranger, Farah and Cambria.

Skylar Conover, Graduate Liason

Skylar and Hedda IV have been a working service team since November 2016. Skylar served as the Graduate Liaison in 2017 and was Ms. Wheelchair USA, 2015-2016.

Sam Korman, Youth Liason

As his second year on the Leadership Team, Sam served as the Youth Liaison in 2017. He raised Canine Companions puppy Arlene as his Eagle Scout Project and recently achieved Eagle Scout.

Robin Kinsel, Chapter Gala
Biography coming soon.

Chapter Gala: Nancy Hasselbeck
Biography coming soon.