On Monday, UT freshman Lauren Stevens will march down Pennsylvania Avenue with her family, including a certain four-legged sibling named John III.
Stevens, who is nineteen years old, and her family of seven humans and one canine will represent the Southeast in the Presidential Inaugural Parade on behalf of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). The nonprofit organization provides people with disabilities with assistance dogs.
CCI invited the Stevens family to join them in the parade in December. Stevens’ brother, Jared, who has cerebral palsy, received John III from the organization. During the parade, the golden lab mix—proudly sporting a UT collar—will walk next to Jared, who uses a wheelchair.
Stevens, a pre-vet major from Brentwood, Tennessee, and a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority, will march in front of the CCI group holding one end of its banner.
“This is a big deal because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “I highly doubt I’ll ever get the opportunity again. I’m very thankful.”
Joining Lauren and Jared Stevens will be their parents, a fifteen-year-old brother, and Jared’s triplet thirteen-year-old brothers.
“I know my brother Jared and his service dog will represent the company well,” Stevens said. “They’re really the main part of this entire show.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to also get UT’s name out there and to represent as a good student. I’m excited about that.”
Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, firstname.lastname@example.org)