by Wilma Norton in Donor Stories,Giving,Legacy Grants
Donors’ legacy gift helps give support and comfort for Gold Star families
Taya Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, the most famous sniper in U.S. military history, immortalized in the film “American Sniper”. She is known internationally as a best-selling author and veteran family activist and travels from her Texas home constantly for media appearances, charitable events and business ventures.
But Taya’s days are punctuated by profound grief, stress and anxiety. That is what brought her to Southeastern Guide Dogs and a loving two-year-old golden retriever named Norman. Norman is an emotional support dog, matched with Taya to provide soothing companionship and to smooth the rough edges of a difficult life spent in the spotlight.
Her match with Norman is one of the first as Southeastern Guidedogs expands its Paws for Patriots program to Gold Star families. To help kick off that expansion, support for Norman came from the Dr. Charles W. and Iona A. Mathias Fund at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
The Mathiases, residents of the Sun City Center area, left the majority of their estate to the Foundation so that their legacy could be care for those in needs for years to come.
In spite of prescribed medication and other therapies, like other family survivors of slain veterans, Taya continues to suffer emotional distress. On a visit to Southeastern Guidedogs earlier this month, she told the media that Norman shows the ripple effect of philanthropy. Norman not only helps her and her children, he goes with Taya to visit other veterans and veterans' families.
She and Norman are ambassadors for Paws for Patriots and bring valuable visibility to this aspect of the program. Taya knows that she can trust Norman to be her faithful, four-legged bundle of devotion and security. He will lighten her anxiety and help her regain a sense of independence and freedom.