Kim Salmeri faces her own personal challenges but focusing… (By Matt Button )
Kimberly “Kim” Salmeri’s story is one of challenges, strength and true inspiration. Born with two lipomas wrapped around her spinal cord, Kim had the first of many surgeries on her spine to restore her mobility when she was only 10 weeks old. And for the first 14 years of her life, she enjoyed the use of her arms and legs, though Kim’s road has never been an easy one. In 2007 at the age of 14, Kim lost the use of her legs. Still she persevered and after another round of surgery and therapy in January 2011, Kim, still wheelchair bound, does some walking with intense physical therapy.
“My struggles make me appreciate things that most people take for granted. That is why I started the Pay It Forward fundraiser,” says Kim, 19, and 2010 Fallston High School graduate. “In my sophomore year in high school, I attended a transitional seminar for handicap individuals with disabilities that get them prepared for the future. It was there that I was introduced to and fell in love with Canine Partners for Life Organization (CPL). They showed me how people with disabilities could live with independence.”
This will be Kim’s fourth year of raising funds for CPL through an email campaign that reaches out to family, friends and local businesses and has generated over $11,000. “I was in total shock when Kim presented us with our first check for several thousand dollars. It was so impressive how she organized the fundraiser and rallied people around her. It really showed her leadership ability and her wonderful heart,” confides Darlene Sullivan, executive director and founder of CPL.
Canine Partners For Life is a non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs, home companion dogs, and residential companion dogs that assist individuals who have a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities. Based in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, CPL places service dogs nationwide. Each CPL dog receives a comprehensive and customized training program to meet the specific needs of their human partner.
“Personally, I am so impressed that someone so young can show us that philanthropy is alive and that there are people still out there that care about helping one another. Kim is really a phenomenal young lady,” says Sullivan.
For Kim, an advocate for others who are disabled seeking independence, the next step in her own personal journey is gaining more mobility so she can attend college. “I want to study animal science or animal behavior and open my own organization that trains dogs,” says Kim.
Kim’s family has been a great source of strength and support, “I am very proud of my daughter. She is selfless and believes so much in helping those living a challenged life get to their own independence,” says Kim’s mother, Denise. “Just as an example of Kim’s altruism, right before she goes into surgery, Kim cuts her hair and gives it to Locks of Love. She is constantly giving back because she sees the need in all people,” says Denise.
Kim Salmeri’s Pay It Forward campaign is an important personal achievement that reflects her own desire for independence and empathy for people who struggle with the constraints of a physical disability. “Paying it forward doesn’t have to mean giving a large sum of money or expending a lot of effort—it’s merely one simple act of random kindness by a lot of people,” says Kim.
Donations made payable to:
Canine Partners for Life Organization
c/o Kim Salmeri
1920 Munsey Drive | Forest Hill, MD