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K9s for Warriors founder Shari Duval dies at 75

Shari Duval

FLORIDA TIMES-UNION

By BETH REESE CRAVEY | The Florida Times-Union | Published: February 5, 2021

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Shari Duval, who built the Ponte Vedra-based K9s for Warriors veterans nonprofit into a national presence, has died after a battle with cancer.

She was 75.

"I’m heartbroken," CEO Rory Diamond wrote on Twitter. "She had been valiantly fighting cancer over and over and winning and this last bout was just too much."

Duval founded K9s For Warriors in 2011 to train shelter dogs as service dogs and pair them with veterans suffering service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma. As of January the nonprofit has "rescued" 1,268 dogs and 650 veterans, according to the website.

"Shari created K9’s for Warriors through sheer grit, love and a tenacity that I’ve never knew existed," wrote Diamond, who is also a Jacksonville City Council member. "She pioneered how to love on our warriors and stop veteran suicide. Like so many others, she changed my life forever. … As one of our warriors just said, 'St. Peter is standing at the Pearly Gates and when he sees Shari he will surely open wide the gates of heaven and say 'no introduction is needed to a saint such as yourself.' "

In December the K9s for Warriors main campus was renamed "The Shari Duval K9s For Warriors National Headquarters."

Diamond's fellow council member, Brenda Priestly Jackson, wrote on Twitter that he and fellow K9s staff and supporters "will continue the act of creating together & continue her legacy of services for veterans."

bcravey@jacksonville.com

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