Service Dogs Gifted To Local Veterans In Need

Pictured left to right is Stephen and Eileen Culley, Angel, Michael Crowley and Jules presenting a check for the service dog. (Photo courtesy The CulleyStrong Foundation)

  BRICK – In memory of Brick resident Sean Culley, a nonprofit made in his name is going the distance to help others through education, suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

  The CulleyStrong Foundation was created in 2019 in honor of Sean, who took his own life that same year.

  “The foundation started in memory of Sean Culley, who was 19 years old at the time and was a freshman and the University of Kentucky. He was my son’s best friend since they were about 4 years old,” said Jim Clabby, one of the founders of the CulleyStrong Foundation. “Sean unfortunately died by suicide in January of 2019. That’s how the CulleyStrong Foundation came to be. My wife, friends and Eileen and Stephen Culley, Sean’s parents, all wanted to do something and bring awareness to mental health issues. Sean had dealt with some depression and that was ultimately what caused him to do what he did.”

  For the past three years, the local nonprofit has been advocating for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

Annie Wilgosz received her own service dog thanks to donations. (Photo courtesy The CulleyStrong Foundation) Photo 3: Pictured left to right

  “The foundation started with the goal of bring awareness to mental health and doing anything they could to start reducing the statistics of suicide. Especially among young people,” Clabby added.

  The nonprofit has done several projects locally to spread awareness and to support the community, such as donating journals to assist people with mental health issues and paying for therapy sessions for those who can’t afford it. On March 25, they presented their biggest project to date.

  After teaming up with other local organizations, the CulleyStrong Foundation was able to purchase two service dogs and provide them to local veterans in need.

  “What CulleyStrong did was purchase two dogs and both were presented at the event “OPERATION CULLEY,” to in-need, local veterans that are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” Clabby said. “The money for the purchase of one dog was raised through a 5K event we had in July of 2021. It was very successful and they raised enough funds to purchase the service dog. The second service dog was purchased directly from a donation.”

  The veterans are selected through another local non-profit, Angel & Jules for Others, where they receive referrals of those in need. They go through a process of matching a dog to the person before they can formerly donate the service dog.

  “It’s a big undertaking. The other nonprofits that were involved with this, the main one being Angel & Jules, work with a specific dog trainer and a dog is selected based on the person’s needs,” Clabby explained.

  The event brought a huge crowd of those wanting to support a good cause, along with veterans Annie Wilgosz and Don Redondo who were officially gifted their service dogs. In addition, a K9 dog was presented to the Middletown Township Police Department.

Pictured left to right is Eileen Culley, Stephen Culley and Don Redondo who was gifted a service dog. (Photo courtesy The CulleyStrong Foundation)

  “Watching these in-need veterans get these dogs that can change their life is pretty amazing. They could not have been more deserving. It was really a great evening, and The CulleyStrong Foundation is just so happy that we were able to do this,” Clabby said. “Of course, none of it would be possible without our very generous donors and supporters, and we thank them tremendously. We look forward to continuing to help our local veterans and others that are in need and dealing with mental health issues.”

  “I know Sean is looking down and so proud of what his namesake foundation is doing – carrying on his natural way of helping those in need,” Clabby added.   

  The CulleyStrong Foundation will be holding their 2nd annual “You Are Not Alone” 5K Run & Walk on June 25 at the Wall Township athletic field at the municipal complex on Allaire Road.

  To learn more about the CulleyStrong Foundation, visit