Homeless animals benefit after Rebounders gymnasts' success

When a team of teenage gymnasts at Rebounders in Timonium came home from the East Coast Classic competition with a $100 cash prize, the coaching staff allowed the girls to decide how to spend their winnings.

They could have spent it on an outing for themselves — be it a nice dinner, a night at the bowling alley or miniature golf. Instead, the girls chose to donate a total of $150 to a local animal shelter.

"There were a couple of votes for laser tag, but the majority was for the animal shelter," said Jen Wall, a 17-year-old senior at Dulaney High.

The young gymnasts from all across Baltimore County enjoyed the spoils of their donation on Thursday afternoon when they were treated to a tour of the Baltimore Humane Society's Reisterstown campus and learned exactly how much their donation meant.

"It's really nice," Wall, a Baldwin resident, said. "All the information is really interesting, and all the animals are adorable."

Many of the girls thought that their donation — which ultimately totaled $150 — was insignificant. But without any large-scale government funding, the Baltimore Humane Society relies on smaller donations such as that of the gymnasts.

Jenna Martin, 16 of Catonsville, said the visit made them realize how much of an impact their donation would have.

"Originally, we didn't know it would make that much of a difference," she said. "After hearing that, we feel really good about it."

Her teammate, 15-year-old Maggie Owens, of Parkville, said she didn't think the donation would mean so much to the Baltimore Humane Society.

But according to Wendy Goldband, director of marketing and public relations for the facility, the organization has no major benefactors.

"It's shocking we can survive on these little donations," Goldband said. "Five-dollar donations make all the difference in the world, so that $150 donation is a big deal."

The girls began their tour by meeting Randy, a two-year-old terrier/pit bull mix who is in her second stint at the shelter in Reisterstown. From there, they were treated to a history of the facility, which was founded by Elsie Seeger Barton in 1927 and comprises 365 acres of wildlife preserve.

When Goldband told the girls that it's a "no-kill" facility, meaning they don't kill animals to make room for newer animals, all of the girls sighed with relief.

Later, the gymnasts got to see some of the dogs, cats, and rabbits that were up for adoption. Each wanted to add their family's collections, though all of the girls returned to Rebounders for practice without a new pet.

Though she's allergic to cats and dogs, coach Karen Kalivoda joined the team for the outing and smiled from afar as they learned where the donation was going.

The team, which also includes Sydney Needle and Anna Tyler. of Monkton. and Pennsylvania resident Carly Dieter, includes three state champions in their skill level.

Wall won the state championship in vault, while Martin won the state title in the balance beam and floor routine ,and Tyler is the state champion at uneven bars, as well as the all-around champion. All six qualified for the sectional championship, Kalivoda said.

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