The Edmond Sun

November 1, 2012

Edmond resident plans 'Doggie Dash' fundraiser

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Edmond resident Valerie Howard learned about community involvement, public service and leadership while growing up in Edmond.

Howard is taking what she learned and putting it to practice as she plans to spend the next 1-2 years volunteering as an unpaid intern in an orphanage outside of Vizag, India. Vizag is a coastal city along the eastern border of India, and the orphans previously lived on the streets and in the dump known as “trash city.”

Howard has plans to leave for India in January 2013 with several American families that will be serving in the same area and hopes to help fund her trip by selling her car (a 2010 Saturn Vue with 47,000 miles), selling much of her personal property and hosting Doggie Dash.

Doggie Dash is a 5K run/walk for runners, walkers, dog lovers and their favorite pooches. Doggie Dash will begin at 9 a.m. on Nov. 17 and all participants will receive a T-shirt and “doggie bag” full of treats for participants and their pets.

Corporate and individual sponsorship are welcomed. All participants will be placed in a drawing for gift cards and baskets. For registration, sponsorship or donations, visit the Facebook site “Doggie Dash 5K Edmond 2012” www.facebook.com/doggiedash5k.

Proceeds from the Doggie Dash 5K will be used for airfare, shots, visas, living expenses and medical expenses while serving in India. Her family will be assisting her with student loan and credit card payments and and health insurance.

A 2007 graduate of Oklahoma Christian School in Edmond, Howard said she learned about public service through the Edmond 4-H Club and held offices in her local chapter as well as serving as president of the Oklahoma County 4-H organization. She was Superintendent of the State Fair of Oklahoma Wool Show from 2004-2008. Howard’s sheep won at the state and national levels leading her to win the State 4-H Sheep Award for her leadership, community service and livestock projects.

While attending OCS, Howard was Student Council treasurer, band treasurer, Pep Assembly chairman and basketball captain. As a junior she interned for the U.S. House of Representatives in Congressman Ernest Istook’s Oklahoma City office, and the “Oklahoma” magazine named Howard as one of their 25 top graduates for 2007.

At the University of Central Oklahoma, Howard served on the President’s Leadership Council for several years. She was named the Outstanding International Business and Economics student and was one of 35 Chesapeake scholars.

Howard transferred to Southeastern Oklahoma State University to pursue her interest in the liberal arts and community work in the poorest socioeconomic region in Oklahoma. While in Durant she worked at the Educational Opportunity Center tutoring students who needed a GED or other test in order to go to college. She tutored college students through Student Support Services, which helps students struggling to stay in school.

She worked as a kindergarten instructor in Caney during the After School Program and volunteered in the pre-school program.

She co-taught weekly Bible classes for high school and middle school girls through Durant’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes program.

Last summer Howard interned for the U.S. Senate in Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe’s Washington, D.C., office.

In the spring of 2011, the president of SOSU nominated Howard for the Newman Civic Fellowship, a national program for students involved in public service. She was one of 135 students chosen nationally for the award.

In May 2012 Howard graduated cum laude with a BA in history and a business minor. She will complete her BS in political science in December 2012.

“I am graduating from college in December,” Howard said, “and I started doing what every soon-to-be college graduate does and look for jobs. When this opportunity presented itself there was not a doubt in my mind that this is what I should do, become part of something beyond myself.”

With plans to depart to India in January 2013, Howard invites readers to go to her Facebook page “Doggie Dash 5K Edmond 2012” and register for the the 5K, making a donation via PayPal, or becoming an event sponsor.

To wish Howard well in her service overseas click “Like,” share the Facebook page with friends or show support in the comments section. Howard may also be reached via email at doggiedash@outlook.com.