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Posted on Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

Ypsilanti man and his service dog Storm awarded President's Volunteer Service Award

By Kyle Feldscher

service_dog_storm_ypsilanti.jpg

Ron Wiedbusch and his dog Storm have been recognized with a national service award.

Ron Wiedbusch | Contributor

While working with veterans, seniors and students across southeast Michigan, Ron Wiedbusch and his dog Storm have managed to touch thousands of lives in the last two years.

Now, Wiedbusch, the Ypsilanti Public Schools safe schools coordinator, and Storm have been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award: Gold Level for their efforts.

Wiedbusch, a contributor for AnnArbor.com who writes many posts about his and Storm’s work, said he and his service dog are a “rare commodity” because of their incredible teamwork, which has allowed them to work more than 2,100 hours volunteering since 2009.

“We like to use it as a catalyst to get other people involved in caring about other people instead of staying in and wondering what you can do,” Wiedbusch said.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is awarded to Americans who inspire others to be involved in volunteer work. The Gold Level is attainable only by adults who have spent more than 500 hours in a 12-month period.

Storm is a sort of gentle giant — a 135-pound white German shepherd that has the ability to support the weight of Wiedbusch, who has a spinal cord disability stemming from a car accident, or help him if he falls, but is gentle enough to lie next to and comfort crying babies who have been abused.

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Wiedbusch and Storm at an event at Ypsilanti's Perry Child Development Center.

Courtesy of Ypsilanti Public Schools

Storm and Wiedbusch work with a long list of agencies and groups within the community, ranging from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to programs for abused children and local school districts, including YPS.

Wiedbusch said one of the most touching aspects of their work is meeting with veterans who have just returned from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said Storm might be the first dog the soldiers have seen since coming back from combat and their reactions to the big white dog are always emotional.

“When they hug him and pet him, it can bring tears to anybody’s eyes,” he said. “The only dogs that they may see (overseas) are the ones they see in not positive settings.”

It’s already been a busy year for Storm and Wiedbusch.

During March, known as Reading Month, the team met with about 2,200 students in a five-week period to help promote reading instead of playing video games or other activities. The two have also done many seminars, promoting fire safety, Internet safety, how to approach dogs and strangers, and helping students interested in becoming veterinarians learn how to work with dogs.

Among the places Wiedbusch and Storm visit on a regular basis are local hospitals, often working with children, seniors and amputees.

He said Storm’s laidback and loving nature helps put many of those people at ease.

“Because of Storm’s training and demeanor, he melts down a lot of obstacles,” Wiedbusch said.

If you would like to contact Wiedbusch for a program he and Storm may be able to put on, contact him at 734-323-6313 or via email. Visit Storm’s website here.

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A certificate honoring Storm the service dog and his handler, Ypsilanti resident Ron Wiedbusch.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at kylefeldscher@annarbor.com or you can follow him on Twitter.

Comments

Corby

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.

Ron and Storm, both, have the uncanny, disarming warmth born of unbridled compassion. My child, who is generally pretty apprehensive about big guys and big dogs, always loved the many days when they visited her school. A big guy with a beard, a big dog, would normally have her hiding behind my back. With Ron and Storm, she runs ahead greeting them by name. They're good people. I'm happy for their recognition and for living in a community filled with so many good, familiar faces.

tom swift jr.

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Ron is a nice guy, and dedicated to what he does. His pup is, without doubt, the most well mannered dog I've ever encountered. Congratulations, Ron, well deserved.

toofmullets

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

very awesome

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

the president's signature doesn't appear on.. "the president's volunteer service award" ?!? i'd be bummed. congrats otherwise.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

Congratulations. It is so nice to see how a good dog can be such a positive force in the world. way to go!

Jen Eyer

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

Off-topic comments were removed.

Jen Eyer

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

WalkingJoe: Please feel free to repost the on-topic portion of your comment. To those who are curious, the off-topic comments referred to a column that ran over the weekend. We didn't want that conversation to unnecessarily affect this one.

WalkingJoe

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

I too think I know why my comment was removed, but if the staff at annarbor.com read my entire post they might note I congratulated both Storm and his master. How is that "off Topic"?

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

tdw, I'm the knucklehead responsible for the first 3 you can e-mail me for my version. craig11152@yahoo.com I didn't think I was over the top but I wouldn't argue my own case either.

tdw

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

I suppose I might be in violation here,but I sure would like to know the type of comments that people can make to get removed on a topic like this.

PattyinYpsi

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

Congratulations, Mr. Wiebusch and Storm, on having received such an honor! You make all of us proud.

PattyinYpsi

Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

WieDbusch. Wiedbusch. Sorry!