When young Ryder Kuhlman thought about what he wanted for his tenth birthday this year, he looked around his room in Volusia County, Florida and ‘decided he had enough stuff’.  Ryder tells Lady Freethinker,

“I didn’t need any toys for my birthday, so I decided to help out some animals.”

Ryder approached his mom, Rhonda Kuhlman, with an idea.  Instead of birthday gifts, he wanted everyone to help the animals at his local shelter.  Rhonda was impressed by his gesture, but not surprised.  She tells us,  “He’s got a really big heart, and loves animals.”  When we asked Ryder what he wants to be when he grows up, he said, “I want to work in a zoo and help out.”

“I thought I could help out by getting dog food, towels, stuff like that,” Ryder explained.

So the Kuhlman’s called the shelter and asked what was on their wish list:

  • Blankets for the cages
  • Old towels for bathing
  • Cat food
  • Dog food
  • Little toys for the cats
  • Peanut butter, to hide the medicine for the animals
Ryder Kuhlman's birthday wish list

Ryder Kuhlman’s birthday wish list, Courtesy, Rhonda Kuhlman

Then Ryder created invitations, which specified “no presents please” but included the shelter’s suggested wish list, adding,

“Help me help the Humane Society and all of their furry friends.”

He sent them to the people on his birthday invite list, including friends and family. His mom helped him by extending Ryder’s circle of love to include her workplace.

Ryder’s birthday donations to Halifax Humane Society, Courtesy, Rhonda Kuhlman Ryder, who has two pets of his own, a poodle mix and a bearded dragon, was thrilled with the response, as was Halifax Humane.  The Kuhlmans took the truckload of donations. Halifax said it was ‘the largest birthday donation they’d ever seen!”  The day of the drop-off, Ryder got to interact with some of the animals and shelter staff, who said,

“What a generous thing to do for our community’s animals! Ryder also donated $100 in cash for the animals. Ryder YOU ROCK! ”

Just like Ryder, you too can make an impact at your local shelter.  Every rescue, every shelter, has their own wish list.  Give them a call or click on their Facebook or webpage link.

We asked Ryder what he wants to teach people about shelter animals and if he had any advice for adopters. Ryder told us, “They have to take good care of the animals, give them time, and make sure they’re ready to take them home.”

As Ryder’s t-shirt says, ‘rescued is my favorite breed’.  Wise beyond his years, Ryder proved that everyone can make a difference in the lives of animals, no matter how old you are. All it takes is listening to the message from your heart.