It’s an awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when your beloved dog is missing. It’s even worse when the pet is the best friend to two young girls.
That’s the case for Lake County Fire Fighter Cameron Gegelman after his family’s dog, Cooper, disappeared yesterday shortly after dropping him at a petsitter’s home at approximately 3 p.m. near Eudora Road and 19A in Mount Dora.
Cooper, a timid 3-year old Boxer and Pit Bull Terrier mix, is handicapped with bad hips and knees, according to Gegelman. At the time of his disappearance, the dog was wearing a red collar.
“He is the most loving dog to his family. [He] Is a giant teddy bear with my 2 girls. Michelle my oldest is 9 and Emery is 5. He is their brother,” said Gegelman who has been a Lake County firefighter for eleven years, on the Special Operations Teams for four years.
Cooper originally joined the family to provide companionship and protection during the long hours Gegelman was at work. Now the family would love to have their four-legged family member home before Christmas. The community is encouraged to help spread the word to make it a happy holiday for the first-responder and his on the two young girls. Anyone who has seen Cooper is asked to call 407-797-0161.
Above: Officer Garcia with Walmart's Kelly Rhodewell
Watch Mount Dora Police Officer Mike Garcia in action at work and you'll see a man that loves his job.
Instead of chasing down crime suspects, Garica spends his days as the School Resource Officer at Mount Dora Middle School. Every morning he's out front greeting and high-fiving teens as pop music plays from his custom- painted patrol car. Not only does Garcia relate to the students, but he protects and helps them.
During the city's Shop with a Cop event last Saturday, Officer Garcia discovered one of his students was sleeping on the floor at her house. Garcia reached out to the local Walmart which responded by committing a gift card toward a mattress. When the officer arrived to pick it up, the retailer donated an entire bed to the student. Garcia bought bedding for her including sheets and a comforter. This is just one small example of what Garcia quietly does for local students in need.
Mount Dora Police Department will begin distributing ‘Comfort Bears’ to children as officers respond to various calls including domestic violence and child abuse. Volunteers devoted approximately two hundred hours hand-stitching the stuffed bears from old police uniforms.
The compassionate idea came when a former police employee sent a similar bear to Mount Dora Public Safety Director John O’Grady. The former employee said comfort bears were made in the 1990’s to help children. O’Grady felt there was still a local need, so with a stash of old uniforms and a group of enthusiastic volunteers, 26 new bears were created. Officers will distribute the stuffed animals as needed beginning this weekend.
““It’s a wonderful gift and a great use of material. I want to thank the citizens of Mount Dora and our eight volunteers that came forward and put these together for us,” said O’Grady.
Acts of kindness are nothing new for Mount Dora Police Officer Ivy Severance. She’s made a career of it.
The officer first learned about three single moms during MDPD's Tip-A-Cop fundraiser at Chili’s last month. The restaurant manager spoke to her about three women employees that held additional jobs to support their families. One server takes care of an elderly parent along with a child.
Severance could relate to those tough times and made it a mission to make Christmas special for the moms and their six children. With generous donations from residents and businesses, including Wise Chiropractic and Walmart, Severance secured toys and bikes for all the kids. The chiropractic office held a special toy drive to fill over-sized Santa sacks for each of the families.
Today the kids were surprised at MDPD with a special party with treats and wrapped gifts, plus a long visit from Santa, Public Safety Director John O’Grady, and police officers.
True to her kindness and dedication, Severance still has families she is trying to help before Christmas. Although many toy donations have been made, she still needs new, unwrapped gifts for middle school and high school students. Anyone who can help should deliver the items to Mount Dora Police Department.