Thursday, November 22, 2012

Declan Accepts Award at 2012 ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon

Photo Credit: Owen Hoffman

Click here for video of the Awards Luncheon including Declan's speech and video telling his story.

I still can not believe I was chosen to be this year's ASPCA Humane Kid of the Year!  I am so honored!  I am so, so, so excited   and I just cannot believe it!  I had the best time ever in New York City and enjoyed my trip very much!  I am so glad that I was chosen for the award because I was able to raise awareness and spread the news about what is happening to our horses to everyone I met!  I got thanked many times for my work and received a lot of support - I could never count all the thank yous I got!   That tells me that people really do care about America's horses and want to see them treated humanely and end horse slaughter forever!  My experience was so amazing in NYC and I would totally love to tell you about my special day.

I woke up sort of early on the morning of the big event!  I could not wait to go to the luncheon and I got dressed as fast as I could dress!  The event was being held in the grand ball room at a huge fancy hotel and there were going to be about 500 people coming to congratulate all the winners.  That's a lot of people going to lunch at the same place in the same room!  

I met a lot of people who care about the animals, including the president of the ASPCA, Ed Sayres!!!  I also got to meet Tommy P. Monahan's parents and grandparents.  Tommy is the boy my award is named after.  Tommy died when he was only 9 years old, after running back into his burning house to rescue his dog Sophie, from the fire.   Meeting the Monahan family was really special for me.  I felt like Tommy was with me at the event and I am very happy to honor his memory with my advocacy for horses.

The Cat of the Year is a handsome black and white boy named Scooter.  Scooter was hurt as a kitten leaving his back kegs paralyzed.  He was rescued by a dog who found him lying in the street who carried Scooter home in his mouth.  His vet saw how special he is a gave him a second chance at life.  Dr. Kennon adopted Scooter and takes him to nursing homes and rehabilitation centers to visit people there and inspire patients.  He is a really cool cat and was really playful with me.  His mom was holding him while they were taking pictures of us, and he kept reaching out and tapping me to me to get my attention.  

I also got to meet Fiona, the Dog of the Year and her parents.  Fiona was abandoned in a trash heap outside a shop.  When she was rescued, they found out she was also totally blind.  Fiona is a survivor and shows what happens when animals are given a second chance.  Fiona's eyesight has been restored and she is living a wonderful new life with her adoptive parents and three new poodle sisters.  Fiona is a very cute dog!  

Photo Credit: Owen Hoffman

Photo Credit: Owen Hoffman
When we all entered the ballroom and sat down, the Master of Ceremonies, Chuck Scarborough, welcomed us and told us about the special event and to enjoy our meal!  About 15 minutes later, Mr. Scarborough introduced Mr. Sayres to come up and he gave a welcoming speech.  Next, we all got to see the videos made by the ASPCA of each recipient and hear from them.  Scooter was first,  and I was next to receive my award.  I was walked up to the podium and shook hands with both Mr. Sayres and Mr. Scarborough. They presented the video about me and I gave my speech.    You can watch the video my mom took of the video that was made of my story and my speech here.  (She was trying to watch me so the picture is off to the side a little bit).  

This is what I said...

Photo Credit: Owen Hoffman
Thank you so much, for the great honor of being this year’s ASPCA Humane Kid of the Year.  I still can’t believe I was chosen for this award, with so many great kids doing wonderful things for animals, all over our country.  I am truly grateful, and I thank you not only on my behalf, but also on behalf of America’s horses, both domestic and wild.  It feels great to know that I have so much support from everyone here, and that is what keeps me going.  I also want to thank my mom, dad and little brother Aidan, who have encouraged me over the last year, to never give up.  And I have a special thank you for my mom, who has been by my side every step of the way, and has taught me that even though I am a kid, my voice matters and is important too.  She is also a great travel companion.   

Animals are an important part of my life and I love them all, but I have a special place in my heart for horses.  They are amazing, beautiful, animals, who are not only our companions and friends, but also our healers.  I feel a special connection and bond with them that keeps my soul alive.  Horses have helped us build our country and economy.  They have been by our sides as we built railroads and communities, plowed our fields, helped us deliver the mail, news, and much needed supplies.  Horses have been there as our companions and for sport, and even when we have gone to war.  Today, horses are still our trusted companions, and continue to help us in special ways like as therapy horses, helping children and adults through physical as well as mental disabilities.  They teach us how to love and to trust.

Photo Credit: Owen Hoffman
Last year, I learned about the inhumane, cruel and unnecessary slaughter of America’s horses and I knew right away it was wrong and that I had to do something, anything, everything, I could think of to help them and be their voice. I started my organization, Children 4 Horses, to raise awareness, show people how important horses are in our lives and culture, and to inspire other kids as well as adults, to fight for humane treatment of horses and to end horse slaughter for good.

Some may see me as just a kid, but I know I can make a difference and affect change in our world, not only for horses, and other animals, but also, for ourselves.  I hope that my work will empower other kids and adults to raise their voices for animals too.

Animal advocacy is not just about saving the animals.  It’s a decision to stand up and do the right thing – a decision of morality.  It’s a commitment and takes a lot of hard work.  We rescue animals and somehow, they rescue us.

I would like to end with a special thank you to the wonderful New Yorkers who stood up and said NO to the M Wells Diner to horse meat on their menu.  When we work together and stand up for animals, we can accomplish great things!

I will fight until we have won for the horses! 

When I got my award, my heart was beating fast and I was very excited!!  The award is a horse which makes it even more special to me.  The ASPCA was founded by Henry Bergh, who worked to save carriage horses in New York City and the award represents his work.

 When the luncheon was over, many people came up to me to congratulate and thank me again.  I made a lot of great connections and hope they will be able to help me continue my work for horses.  I had the best time ever and I feel so proud to honor our horses!  

I will fight until we have won for the horses!!!  ~Declan

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