Heidi the Hound Brings Smiles to Seniors

UCF alumni and her dog spread cheer


We know Knights are generous and actively support their local communities and UCF, so in support of #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day to celebrate the creative ways humankind has been helping each other during the pandemic, we asked the Knights community to share positive stories of themselves or other Knights and how they’re exemplifying community service during the global pandemic. And Knight Nation delivered!


Here is the story of alumna Stephanie Wilken '08:


"While Kansas City is under a stay-at-home order, I wanted to find a safe way to help others. My German shorthaired pointer Heidi brings joy everywhere she goes, so it was a natural fit to find something she could do. She may be 12, but she has so much energy that her middle name is "Up-tempo" (and she's a big football fan). I reached out to a contact I met last year through my local Chamber of Commerce who works at a nearby senior living facility. I asked if their residents would be interested in a visit from Heidi. We got an enthusiastic "yes" and the date and time we picked could not have been better!


It was a lovely day and after the director made an announcement to residents, Heidi hit the trails around the property. Residents came out to their porches and balconies to say hello. Some stayed inside, but we were still able to say hello. Heidi was SO excited and happy the entire time. And it was wonderful to see the joy she brought to the residents she met. She even got to greet some employees, who were also very happy to see her. She spent the evening snoring away and dreaming of her new friends.


The next day, I shared her story on Twitter and a friend tagged @darth, who retweeted it. We got a second round of good cheer as people from all over sent their thanks and well wishes, which I, of course, passed along to Heidi :) I'm excited for future visits and love growing this connection and helping our community. I hope we can inspire others to do something for someone else, not just now but always. No act of kindness is too small."


While we are inspired by these generous acts of kindness shared with us, we hope it inspires you make a positive change in the lives of others. You can show your generosity in a variety of ways during #GivingTuesdayNow, whether it’s helping a neighbor, advocating for an issue, sharing a skill or giving to causes. Every act of compassions counts.


If you feel compelled to support the UCF community during this time, there are various ways to get involved: