Canine Companions for Independence
Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1975. CCI trains and raises puppies from birth, up until about two years of age. They train labs and golden retrievers to become service dogs, leader dogs, facility dogs, and assistance dogs. What makes CCI so unique is that they are able to train these dogs to respond to over two-dozen verbal commands, as well as any additional commands that a person may need as it relates to their specific disability. The people who benefit from receiving a CCI dog are individuals with serious, physical or mental disabilities. They train these puppies, at the cost of approximately $50,000 per dog. When training is complete, they gift the fully trained dog to a person in need for absolutely no cost at all.
How We Support CCI
One of our best methods for raising money for CCI is our annual Bike Trip! Inspired by Aaron Smaka and the Alphas of our chapter, the members wanted to find an activity that was a different way to raise money and awareness, while also being an adventure to create memories for the brothers.
Bike Trip officially began in the spring of 1996 with just a handful of brothers. They took off from the Clock-tower on campus in Allendale and circumnavigated Lake Michigan on a self-sustained bicycle ride in about 2 weeks. That year, from what we understand, they raised a total of about $1,000. Paying out of pocket for any bicycle repairs, parts, food and other expenses, they got by with what they had and camped as they made their way around the lake. Bike Trip is an 8 day trip, traveling through 4 states. We stay in 8 different cities sleeping in churches and high schools. We bike in relay style in 3 groups composed of 5-8 riders at a time. When a person is not riding they are in the cheer vans, cheering on other riders. Our trip is entirely self funded; therefore, we rely heavily on donations and the support from alumni, the community, and sponsors.
The idea to bike 1,200 miles around Lake Michigan was far-fetched, but now it has become a yearly trip to raise money and for members of our Fraternity to experience. In May of 2016 our 21st trip was completed, and we raised over $34,000 — our largest donated total to date. Our chapter is the only one that goes on a trip like Bike Trip, and we are the only chapter that still raises money for CCI. Over our 21 years of the event, we have given more than $200,000 to CCI and have been given the opportunity to name a new born pup.
Jack Crawford, owner of Loose Spokes Bike Shop in Grand Haven, Michigan, has aided the efforts of Alpha Sigma Phi and our annual Bike Trip event since the very beginning. Jack and the employees of Loose Spokes have provided us with:
- Training events
- Bike safety classes
- Bike repairs / maintenance
- Send off breakfast
- Connections for current and potential sponsors
Throughout the years Jack and Loose Spokes have given our brotherhood more than we could have ever imagined and are a large part of our successful efforts to raise money for Canine Companions for Independence. The brother of Alpha Sigma Phi – Delta Phi would like to thank Jack and Loose Spokes for everything they have done for us to date and cannot wait to continue our long lasting partnership in our efforts to benefit such an amazing organization.