Giving back to our country’s veterans is something that Jim West, Director of Golf Operations at Tellico Village, is incredibly passionate about. A few months ago, he was approached by the founder of Smoky Mountain Service Dogs, Mike Kitchens. Smoky Mountain Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization based in Tellico Village that provides injured veterans with custom trained mobility assistance service dogs. Kitchens mentioned that one of their veterans, USAF/Special Operations Para Rescue Senior Airman (ret.) Daniel Belcher needed a golf cart. Due to the severity of his injuries suffered in the Iraq war, Daniel could no longer walk more than a few paces, meaning he couldn’t exercise his service dog, Stryker. A golf cart would allow the veteran some mobility to enjoy the 23 acres that he owns and to actively exercise his dog.
When West found out of the need, he then called every industry contact that he had available but was unable to contact one. As fate would have it, Jim Nark, a Vietnam Veteran and Tellico Village resident, was looking to sell his golf cart that hadn’t been used in recent years and contacted Jim. West then put Nark in touch with Mr. Kitchens and Nark agreed to donate the golf cart to Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.
The golf cart was in rough shape, but it was able to be restored and repaired for Mr. Belcher. The restoration and repairs were paid for by Jim West as a donation to Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.
Kitchens said, “Personally, I find it wonderful that we have such a giving and supportive community of our veterans. It’s an honor to serve them.” When discussing Smoky Mountain Service Dogs, West said, “I feel very strongly about their cause and the impact they have on the lives of those that have given so much for our country.”
– Jessica Miles, Marketing Content Coordinator