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Graettinger Girl Adopts Program For Veterans

By Staff | Aug 11, 2015


GRAETTINGER?- When you’re an 17-year old high school student, and school is right around the corner, there are lots of things on your mind. Preparing for your senior year, classes, school friends and graduation are all pretty high on the list of thoughts. But for a Graettinger girl, she has a slightly different agenda in the days leading up to the start of the 2015-16 school year.

Cassy Olesen, the daughter of Steve and Ronda Olesen of Graettinger , will be a senior at Graettinger-Terril High School this year, but rather than fussing over fashions or the like, she has decided to do her part to make a difference for her country and nation through a special program.

Earlier this year, Cassy became aware of a program known as “Paws and Effect.” The non-profit organization, which is based in Des Moines, raises, trains and places service dogs with military veterans and children with disabilities. The organization has been in existence for nine years, placing these service animals at no cost.

After learning about the program and what it does to help people in need, Olesen decided to jump onboard and help by organizing a fund raising event, set for Saturday, August 29, at the Graettinger American Legion Post, to raise funds and awareness for Paws and Effect.

When Olesen learned about Paws and Effect, she was drawn to the program. “Spreading the word about PTSD and Paws and Effect can help change the lives of veterans in Iowa and around the country,” Cassy said. “Many recipients of the service animals are military veterans who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is the cause of death of a veteran every 65 minutes in the United States.”

According to Olesen, the schedule for the fundraiser is set and promises to be both informative and fun.

“To start off the fundraiser, one of the dog recipients is going to share how his dog helps him. Then, a band called John Senn and Friends is playing live music from 8:00 to10:00 p.m.,” Olesen explained. “There are also some donated items that are going to be raffled off. There will be a free-will donation to get in and raffle tickets will be sold at the event. For more information, people can visit www.paws-effect.org,; or they can find the event on Facebook under “Paws and Effect Benefit”, or call me at 712-298-0655.”

If you stop and think about it, that’s a pretty tall order, setting up a fundraiser for a national organization, especially when you are about to start your senior year in high school.

Cassy has been involved in Football Cheerleading, Volleyball, Basketball, Speech, Student Council, FFA and is a member of the National Honor Society. Cassy is a three-season letter winner for Cheerleading and will be the squad Captain for the upcoming school year. She has also earned letters in Volleyball and Basketball and has served as Secretary and Vice President of the GT FFA, as well as Reporter, Secretary, Vice President and President of the Pirates 4-H Club.

Through her involvement in 4-H, Cassy was awarded the Danforth “I Dare You” award, as well as 4-H Citizenship and Merit Awards during the past year. She exhibits breeding beef animals at the fair, as well as a dog project and projects in food and nutrition areas.

Most recently, Cassy was crowned the 2015 Palo Alto County Fair Queen back on July 23, which means she is competing in a few short days at the Iowa State Fair for the title of Iowa State Fair Queen as well.

Olesen is active in her community, where she is a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Graettinger and assists with church activities including the annual chicken dinner. Earlier this Summer, Cassy was selected to attend the Iowa American Legion Girls’ State by the Auxiliary of the Nelson-Christensen American Legion Post in Graettinger.

And, she holds down a part-time job at the Fareway Stores in Emmetsburg.

After graduation from Graettinger-Terril, Cassy would like to attend Iowa State University or South Dakota State University to major in Agricultural Communication or Agricultural Business.