Whalens Heroes donate two deserving veterans receive service dogs!

Changing lives for the better, especially for those of our Veterans and First Responders is why Whalens Heroes exists. With the help of multiple sponsors/donors and participants in our fundraisers, we were able to change the lives of two families in April. Once Alice has completed her training, she and her person, Gabe Fleck will complete the handler training and she’ll go home with him.

Meet Gabriel Fleck. He was born in Indiana in 1984 and attended St. Roch Catholic School before graduating from Cathedral High School in 2003. Gabe, a lifelong Boilermaker fan, attended Purdue University and earned his B.S. in Organizational Leadership & Supervision in 2009 and an MBA from American University in 2016. With the recession in full swing during his final year at Purdue, Gabe decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and joined the Navy in August of 2009. He qualified for Nuclear Power School, located in beautiful Charleston, S.C., and became certified in 2011 to become a machinist’s mate aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.

After two deployments and time in San Diego, the ship took him to Bremerton, Washington, where he suffered a near-fatal accident aboard the carrier, falling 30 feet down a ladder well and shattering his right leg and fracturing his back, resulting in a double spinal fusion. Gabe was medically retired from the Navy in 2014 and decided to move back to Indiana to be near family.

Gabe met his college sweetheart, Erin, while being her server at O’Charley’s up in Lafayette and they were married in June 2007. He is a loving father (and superhero) to his four children, Sam, Sarah, Noah, and Natalie, and enjoys having adventures with them and traveling as a family. Gabe loves to volunteer at his church, go camping, attend sporting events and races (especially the Indianapolis 500), and support his beloved Purdue Boilermakers. In his wife’s opinion, he’s the best person she has ever known.

If you or someone you know could benefit from a service dog contact us!

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