Shannon Kelly is a Dawg. Fights might break out over that description, but not here. “I brag about Dawg Nation to my friends,” she says. “I make them come to all of our events.”
The Colorado native grew up with Dawg Nation. Her father, Jack, played on the original Dawg Nation team. His death in 2010 led to the formation of the Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation that helps those in need in the hockey community.
“He’s pretty much where it started,” agrees Shannon. “With my mom Kathie and my sisters Meghan and Devin, he was in a houseful of all women. The Dawgs were his safe haven!”
Her dad was a good player and skated all the time. Interestingly, Shannon doesn’t skate. At least, “Not in an embarrassingly long time.”
She does, however, work on an amazing number of projects for the Dawgs and has coordinated several of the foundation’s major fund raising events.
If Jack was ground zero for Dawg Nation, Shannon sees it as bittersweet. “Dawg Nation may not have come to be if everyone’s injuries and illnesses hadn’t happened. All this good has come from that, but it’s hard because he would love every single event and being a part of it. He’d be so proud of what they’ve done to help so many.”
She notes the Dawgs have never forgotten her dad. They wear his initials on their sweaters in games and have retired his number 21. “He can’t be here, but being a part of it makes me feel like somehow he’s still helping. Whenever I do anything with the Dawgs I feel like he’s doing it with me.”
Shannon is a CU grad with a degree in finance and now works at an oil and gas company. She played soccer and tennis at the varsity level in high school and still enjoys tennis today. “My knees tell me that I don’t want to be playing soccer.”
The special part of being a Dawg is the sense of family. This is especially true of the Dawgfather, Martin Richardson. “He’ll hate me for saying this,” confides Shannon. “He’s very humble, but there’s so much he does for other people. It’s been an honor knowing him. Thank you will never be enough for what he’s done in my dad’s name and for me and my family. I will never be able to repay him.”
When she’s not volunteering with the Dawgs, Shannon is active in Save Our Youth, a mentoring program for at risk children. She meets weekly with an 11 year old girl. “It’s something separate from their families, someone they can go to for help and advice.”
Shannon doesn’t foresee a time when Dawg Nation is not part of her life. “I feel like I’ve got another family. It’s this huge group trying to do good. If you put your heart and mind to it you can make an incredible amount of change. And they all do. It’s inspiring.”
Story by Jeff Kingery Photos by Kelli Packard