Editorial: September 15, 2023
Thirty years ago, several friends got together and discussed how they could create something for those in the fancy who needed some kind of assistance. This was in the era of AIDS awareness, and that cut into our sport, depriving us of friends who succumbed to this horrific disease. Its toll ultimately robbed our community of a generation of talent never to be replaced. So with the combined talents and devotion of the original founders — Dorothy Collier, Thomas Bradley, Patricia Laurens, Jeffrey Pepper, Eric Steele, Ellen Frost and Michael Larizza — Take The Lead was created with a red AIDS ribbon as its logo, which still remains to this day. As donations began to arrive, the scope of the charity became inclusive of all in our community who needed some temporary financial support. With the rapid acceptance and gain in popularity of this much-needed charity, Take The Lead booths started appearing at several dog shows. Thanks to the generosity of many if not all clubs, the charity was given the space gratis; no more was this appreciated than with the generous free space given to them by the Westminster Kennel Club, where space is at a premium. It didn’t hurt that Dottie was married to Mr. Westminster, Chet Collier. The exposure at Westminster was priceless in more ways than one. Then there was a renewable yearly membership that came with a pin, which is worn with pride on the lapels of many at the dog shows. The membership is approximately 1,750 members per year. The events were held nationwide to promote the charity and raise the needed funds to those in need. To date, Take The Lead has distributed $7.1 million through the years, with 2020 being their largest single-year distribution: $691,000. Take The Lead is headed by Chairman Mary Miller, 1st Vice Chairman Dottie Collier, Vice Chairman Tom Bradley, Treasurer Paul Campanella and Secretary Susan Sprung. The board of trustees includes Edd Bivin, Timothy Catterson, Randy Garren, Amy Green, Mari-Beth O’Neill, Jeffrey Pepper, Bruce Schwartz and Cindy Vogels. One of the strongest and most overlooked strengths of this charity is the long-lasting association of the remaining original founders and dedication to Take The Lead. We in the fancy owe our thanks and gratitude to all these individuals for the good works they do to keep Take The Lead the most important and relevant charity in our close-knit world of purebred dogs. Thirty years strong, Dog News wishes Take The Lead continued support and success in the future.