Flip Flop Till You Drop 2016

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k9s for Warriors volunteers and service dogs join in the fun. photo: 2016

Hundreds of people dressed in green traveled up and down A1A Beach Boulevard on Saturday to celebrate Flip Flop Till You Drop. Now in its 14th year, this year’s charity event help raise money for K9’s For Warriors.  This years host site was Dunes Cracker House. Live music was playing throughout the day at various sites along the way.

With businesses on the boulevard offering walkers discounts on drinks, food and merchandise, this event usually sells out weeks in advance and this year was no exception. Over 600 shirts were ordered and sold, bringing people from all over Florida to the beach.

Along with the dogs from K9s for Warriors joining in, SAFE Animal Shelter had their tent set up along the route and raised over $200.00 for their organization.

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Having fun at Coquina Beach. photo: 2016

The K9s for Warriors is a program to assist post 9/11 veterans who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries or sexual trauma. Located in NE Florida, K9s for Warriors provides service canines for the returning veterans. With suicide rates among returning veterans on the rise, the use of animal companions has proven to be successful in reducing the stress of returning to civilian life.  In January, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported that the suicide rate for male veterans ages 18 to 29 increased close to 44 percent between 2009 and 2011.

Veterans who choose to participate in the program, live at the facility for three weeks while they are paired and trained to work with their service dogs. Many of the dogs are rescued from shelters throughout the country and each dog is carefully evaluated before entering the training program.

Last year a new 17,000-square-foot facility was completed in NE St Johns County. The facility includes fenced dog parks, 27 climate-controlled kennels and a pool. The program has been so successful, warriors who complete the program have an 82 percent reduction in suicidal thoughts within six months.

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