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Teen wants to help pets breathe easier

September 27, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

LEITERSBURG - Thanks to the efforts put into an October fund-raiser by a local high school student and her mother, cats and dogs may soon be able to breathe easier amid catastrophe.

Smithsburg High School student Rachel Bibbee, along with her mother, Lynn Bibbee, have organized a family bingo night for Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. at Bingo Island in Hagerstown. Proceeds are to be used by Washington County's 27 fire departments to purchase animal oxygen masks/respirators that will be used on pets during fire rescues.

"I read an article in Animal Free Press about a state that was buying the animal respirators. A lot of people here didn't even know what they were or anything," Rachel said. "If my dogs (Angel and Brady) were in a fire, I'd want them to have something to help them."

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The Bibbees said they are hoping to raise $3,000 through the event, which includes 20 games of bingo for an entry fee of $10. The Modern Woodmen of America insurance group will match the amount raised, up to $3,000, said Richard Bibbee, Rachel's father and an insurance agent with the company.

Currently, the departments do not have such equipment, said Ron Horn, deputy chief of the Hagerstown Fire Department.

"I thought it was a great idea because there have been a few times we rescued animals that there was no way for us to give them proper respiration," Horn said.

Terra Rowe, assistant manager at Bingo Island, said she was excited by the idea for the fund-raiser because it allows entire families to play together. The business typically is open for adults only, she said.

"Children want to know where their parents are going, and this gives them a chance to participate," Rowe said.

Prizes at the event are to include dinners and event tickets for families of four, gaming systems and, possibly, a vacation package, Rowe said.

Rachel said she has become more involved recently in animal-rights activism, such as volunteering with a "street team" for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She said her interest in the cause grew because of the outspoken efforts to protect animals by musician Billy Martin, guitarist for Good Charlotte.

The teen, who will begin taking college courses at Hagerstown Community College while working toward a 2006 high school graduation, said she is trying to follow in her mother's footsteps by staying active in the community. Lynn Bibbee has been the community involvement coordinator for Sam's Club and helped organize another Bingo Island event that raised money for school surveillance cameras in the wake of the Columbine tragedy.

"I guess I always looked up to her in that, and wanted to be able to do so many things in the community and still handle it," Rachel said.

Tickets to the fund-raiser are available at Bingo Island, 920 W. Washington St., and at Superior Ice Cream, 500 Chestnut St., both in Hagerstown. For more information, call 301-733-7888.

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