YAPS (Youth and Pet Survivors) is a program at Children’s Hospital that pairs kids with cancer and dogs(or cats) with cancer or serious medical issues as pen pals. The kids and dogs write back and forth about their shared experiences and personal lives. It gives kids an outlet to express themselves to a friend who understands what they are going through.
Team YAPS started in 2005 with Anise, a 12 year old girl undergoing chemo for leukemia and Boone, a 3 legged yellow labrador retriever. They were matched as pen pals and Boone challenged Anise to ride in that year’s Courage Classic on the back of tandem while Boone was towed in his bike trailer. The ride was a success and Boone and Anise rode in two more Courage Classics together. Due to some orthopedic issues, Anise couldn’t ride anymore, but Boone continued for several more years. When he got too old, his sister Spree, another yellow lab mix amputee took over. She rode for a few years until she had to stop. Now Antoine, a Siberian Husky with deformed hind legs, has taken over in the bike trailer and is looking forward to his third Courage Classic. All three of the dogs were/are registered therapy dogs and also YAPS pen pals.
Team YAPS has had a variety of riders on the team but have a core group of four riders. Connie, Christa, Colleen and Kim have ridden together for the past four years, always with at least one dog in the trailer and we look forward to riding in many more.