Large crowds can be unsettling to Rantoul resident Daniel Mullen Jr., who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, a result of his service in Afghanistan.
When Mullen recently went to watch his girlfriend, Anne Marie Gallahue, umpire a girls’ softball game, he started to get edgy.
That’s when his new friend, Binx, stepped in. Binx got up on Mullen’s lap.
“When he noticed I was getting a little anxious, he distracted me from whatever was that was triggering my anxiety,” Mullen said.
Binx is a Continental Kennel-registered Australian shepherd that came to live with Mullen just two days before that incident.
“They’re very attentive to people’s demeanor, their emotional state,” Mullen said.
American Legion Post 203’s Mission K9 Warrior Program in Georgetown sponsors the service. It costs $15,000 to train a service dog like Binx. The dogs are provided without charge to military veterans — trained by Paw-a-day Inn K9 Suites in Tilton.
Mullen is a 20-year military veteran, serving for 10 years in the Navy and 10 more in the Army. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan.
“I’ve lost dear brothers in arms on the battlefield,” Mullen said. “During my second deployment, I got divorced. There were some military politics that went on that made it really difficult. A lot of things that sent me into depression and (created) PTSD issues.”
Mullen said there are a number of triggers that can set him on edge. While in a crowd, he subconsciously begins looking for “the enemy.” When driving, heavy traffic can set him off.
“Seeing something beside the road triggers me to remember to look out for a roadside bomb,” he said.
Christmas Day, when he had a buddy die, is always difficult for the 45-year-old.
Mullen said Binx is trained to distract him when he starts experiencing PTSD symptoms.
“He distracts me from what I’m hyperfocused on,” Mullen said. “His doing that really helps calm me down.”
Mullen underwent training to handle Binx, who he said is “extremely loyal.”
Dave Hughes, program director for Mission K9 Warrior, said to date 13 military veterans have been paired with K-9 partners in the program that started five years ago.
A military veteran himself, Hughes said, “We are losing too many veterans, especially in our area, to PTSD. They are succumbing to their battle scars.”
That’s what prompted Hughes to start the program.
“I brought my idea to the American Legion post in town. Within five minutes it was a unanimous decision” to support it, he said.
Like many other worthy programs, Mission K9 Warrior has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. Funds are needed to keep it going.
A fundraiser to benefit the program is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, May 29, at the Georgetown Fairgrounds. There will be two bands — 90 Proof (classic country music) and American Pie (classic rock). The event will also include “a load of raffle items,” Hughes said, plus food and drinks.
A Jeep club will have its assortment of Jeeps on display.
“These are a mixture of everything, new, old, a little of everything,” Hughes said.
People can also donate online at amlegion203il.org. Donations can be mailed to Mission K9 Warrior, 106 E. West St., Georgetown IL 61846.
Schneider to perform in Gibson City
John Schneider (Bo Duke from “The Dukes of Hazard”) will perform Friday, May 14, at Harvest Moon Theater, Gibson City, to raise funds for Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals.
Schneider will also show his latest movie, “Stand On It,” a tribute film to “Smokey and the Bandit.”
There will be a VIP meet and greet at 6 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by the concert and movie at 9 p.m.
Schneider, along with his Stars N’ Bars Band, will perform his classics and latest hit songs. Other performances include Cody McCarver from Confederate Railroad and Keith Burns from Tick Pony.
Shriner’s Hospitals for Children has treated more than 1.3 million children from more than 180 countries. Shriner’s provides specialized care to children with orthopedic conditions, burns, cleft lip and palate and spinal cord injury conditions. The hospitals help regardless of the family’s ability to pay.
Visit harvestmoondrivein.com for more information or to purchase tickets.
Rantoul officials sworn in
Newly elected officials of Rantoul village government were sworn into office Tuesday night.
Charles Smith was sworn in to a third term as mayor while Janet Gray will serve her first term as village clerk.
Three newcomers were elected under the new district system and sworn in, including Irene Weathersby, District 1; Regina Crider, District 2; and Donald Robertson, District 3.
Incumbents sworn in were Sherry Johnson, Sam Hall and Mark Wilkerson in districts 4-6, respectively.
Under the previous system, candidates ran on an at-large basis.
Make a run for it in Gifford
All of those people who like to run, even when they’re not being chased, can do so when the Gifford Community Celebration returns next month with a 5K and 1K kids fun run.
The event is set for June 26. The 5K run/walk begins at 7 a.m. Registration opens at 6 a.m. Cost is $25.
The 1K kids fun run begins at 8:30 a.m. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. Cost is $15.
You can sign up at any of the Gifford State Bank locations as well as online at https://runsignup.com/Race/IL/Gifford/TheGiffordCommunityCelebration
M-S Junior High students honored
April students of the month have been named at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High.
They are Parker Baker, Valentina Covarrubias-Zuniga, Hayden Litteken, Grace Binkley, Lacie Bushman, Gabby Reeves and Ben Waddle.
Food distribution set in Rantoul
A special food distribution for income-eligible residents of Champaign County will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 22, at Community Service Center, Rantoul.
Bring an ID with your current address.
This will be a drive-thru distribution. One box per household will be distributed…