Chats with the CEO: Kathy Champion
27 years in the Army, 4 major conflicts, 7 IED explosions, 2 remarkable guide dogs, 1 incredible human. Retired LTC Kathy Champion catches up with CEO Titus Herman on Chats with the CEO.
About Kathy Champion
Kathy Champion thrived in her 27-year career as an Army civil affairs officer. This retired Lieutenant Colonel and PhD served as a medical advisor in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia. After surviving seven IED explosions and fighting post-traumatic stress disorder, Kathy faced the battle of a lifetime when she lost her vision. At first, doctors thought her vision loss stemmed from a virus contracted in Iraq, but would later determine it was from a traumatic brain injury coupled with MS.
“I freaked out. I was angry at the world,” Kathy says. “I stayed inside four walls and nearly gave up.”
For Kathy, Southeastern Guide Dogs changed everything. With help from her first guide dog, Angel, Kathy resumed an active lifestyle of travel, athletics, and service to her fellow veterans. She now shares adventures with her second guide, George, a handsome black Labrador. Kathy and George have been inseparable as Kathy raced sailboats, trained for triathlons, hiked mountains, and traveled the world. She lives by the motto: “No matter what your limitation, being blind isn’t one of them.”
“When I first got my guide dog, my colleagues said, ‘You’re back to your old self again. You’re motivated, you’re pounding the pavement, you’re smiling more.’”
For years, Kathy has reached out to other veterans also facing the challenges that come with PTSD. “In our community, asking for help is a sign of weakness. You don’t do that. But when they see me with my dog, they trust me—and I trust Southeastern Guide Dogs. Trust is a huge issue with PTSD. Southeastern taught me to trust again.”
For a trip down memory lane, check out this 2012 video of Kathy and her first guide dog, Angel. This was our first video ever uploaded to YouTube! https://youtu.be/tHODw4xT1Ag