Commissioners Recognize National Pet Therapy Day and Apraxia Awareness Day

PAINESVILLE, OH, May 5, 2022 – In their weekly meeting on May 5th, the Lake County Board of Commissioners issued multiple proclamations designating April 30th as “National Pet Therapy Day” and May 14th as “Apraxia Awareness Day”.

Geralyn Hawk, a registered handler with “Pet Partners” (a therapy animal team), recently reached out to the Board for their support of “National Pet Therapy Day”. With a growing body of research demonstrating the wide variety of ways therapy animals can make a difference in people’s lives, “Pet Partners” has played an essential role in improving the health and well-being of others through the human-animal connection. This national organization makes millions of visits per year to hospitals, nursing/hospice homes, and schools bringing comfort and healing to those in need. Along with her husband Mike, Geralyn has worked with therapy animals for over 20 years.

“The Board is very happy to draw attention to all the contributions that Geralyn and “Pet Partners” have made. We are hopeful this awareness in our county will aid in their mission of benefitting the lives of some of our most vulnerable people and at times when they need help most,” stated Commission President John Hamercheck. Commissioner John Plecnik added, “Out four-legged friends greatly reduce stress and anxiety so the benefits are clear.”

In regards to Childhood Apraxia Speech (CAS), Monica Karpovitch asked the Board if they would acknowledge “Apraxia Awareness Day” in order to get the word out about this complicated speech disorder that affects 1 out of every 1000 children. As a mother to Joshua, her 7-year-old son diagnosed with CAS, she understands firsthand the struggles that are associated with this condition. Children like Joshua generally have a good understanding of language and while they may know what they want to say, they have difficulty learning or carrying out the complex series of movements required for intelligible speech. She feels it is important for everyone to know that this can result in children struggling to grow friendships with their peers due to this lack of communication and her hope is this resolution will unite community members, along with friends and family, with children who have CAS. Monica is a volunteer with “Apraxia Kids”; an organization in Lake County dedicated to raising awareness.

Commissioner Hamercheck explained, “Our hope is that getting this resolution on the record and acknowledging this condition will, in essence, give a voice to the voiceless. Every child desires communication and deserves to be heard.” “It is our job as community leaders, neighbors, friends, and family to take an active and supportive role in advocating for these children whose only desire is to have the opportunity all other children have; a true connection with others,” included Commissioner Plecnik.

For more information about these organizations, you can visit “Pet Partners” at petpartners.org or “Apraxia Kids” at apraxia-kids.org.

From the left: Commissioner Plecnik, Mike with dog Wyatt, Geralyn with cat Pearl and Commissioner Hamercheck
From the left: Commissioner John Plecnik, Dale, Monica and Joshua, Commissioner John Hamercheck