This week in The Times: Kaylie-Lynn Kurtzweg

Vitals: Kaylie-Lynn Kurtzweg, 8, is a third-grade student at Ralston Elementary School. Recently, she learned that “Joker,” a Rockford Park District Police Department K-9, was diagnosed with Type B Lymphoma cancer. Since then, Kaylie-Lynn has spent the majority of her summer helping raise awareness regarding Joker’s situation. Though the cancer is in remission, Joker faces a costly uphill battle associated with his aftercare treatment.

1. What inspired you to take such an active role in helping to raise funds for Joker’s medical expenses? When I first found out, I felt very sad. I love dogs, and I knew I wanted to help in some way. After my grandmother told me, my first thought was, “What can I do to help?” So, I decided to start telling more people and began raising money.

2. Having met Joker, how would you describe him to those who have not? First, he’s a very sweet and smart dog. He loves to play fetch and his favorite toy is his red ball. He is still fast enough to take down bad guys; but because of his illness, he may only have two more years as a police officer. If other people met him, they would want to help him just like me.

3. How can others get involved with this cause? We are having “Joker Fest” on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Indoor Sports Center. They could come to that event because the money raised there would go to take care of Joker. We are also selling cookies and other baked goods to raise money as well. Plus, my grandmother and I will be walking in the Rockford Labor Day Parade asking for donations instead of giving away candy. Also, people can visit to make an online donation.

4. Did having a dog of your own influence your decision to help Joker? Yes, it did. I love dogs, and Joker is lovable just like all other dogs. Cancer is ugly for people and for animals. If we want to help people and animals like Joker who are fighting cancer, we can get out there, get involved and kick cancer in the butt for both people and animals so no more people or dogs have to die from it. We can also work harder so more people know about stories like Joker’s.

5. Question from last week’s “This week in The Times” participant, Mike Cooksey: Who is your hero? My hero is Joker because he keeps us all safe from drugs, guns and criminals. He takes care of us, now we need to take care of him.

“This week in The Times” is a weekly survey of people selected by The Rock River Times staff. The column does not accept unsolicited submissions.

From the Aug. 25-31, 2010 issue

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