Jeep enthusiasts will be supporting Smoky Mountain Service Dogs, a non-profit organization that provides service dogs to disabled veterans, at one of the largest Jeep events in the southeast this month.
More than 1,000 Jeeps and several thousand Jeep lovers are expected at the Third Annual Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion at the LeConte Event Center in Pigeon Forge on Aug. 29, 2015. The non-profit Smoky Mountain Jeep Club of Maryville, Tenn. is hosting the event and has chosen Smoky Mountain Service Dogs as the event’s official charity.
The “All Jeep Show” will have vehicles on display for judging in several competition categories and over 25 national and local Jeep parts vendors selling Jeep accessories and outdoor and off-road products. National vendors such as Rugged Ridge, Smittybilt, Rubicon Express, and Quadratec as well as local vendors Jeepism, Eco Trek Campers to name a few will be showcasing their products.
Representatives from Smoky Mountain Service Dogs will attend the event and a charity raffle of some really great items will be held to raise money for the organization. More than $5,500 has been raised at the event in the past two years to fund service dogs for disabled veterans.
“We are really blessed to have had the support of the Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion these last three years,” said Mike Kitchens, chairman of Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. “It costs $20,000-$25,000 to train each service dog and they are provided at no cost to the veteran.”
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs is a 501c3 non-profit, all-volunteer organization with no administrative salaries, so every dollar donated goes toward its mission of funding the extensive training of service dogs for mobility assistance for veterans with disabilities. Using mainly Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, each dog receives 1,500 to 1,800 hours of training between the time they are a puppy and placement with a veteran at about two years of age. The organization works hard to match the right dog with the specific needs of each veteran.
Watch a video about the lives of U.S. Marine Veteran Bradley Walker and his Smoky Mountain Service Dog “Bella”
The Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion has grown dramatically since the first event held 2013 in Townsend, Tenn. with 163 Jeeps. The 2014 event was held outside in the municipal parking lot next to the LeConte Event Center and attracted about 750 Jeeps and 1,500–2,000 participants and spectators from 17 states, some as distant as Wisconsin and New York. Contingents from Jeep clubs in New York, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina also attended.
The family friendly, one-day event moves indoors at the LeConte Event Center this year and will be open to the public 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2015. Admission is just $5. Parking in the municipal parking lot next to the facility is free. Don’t forget to buy a raffle ticket or two!
Jeep photos courtesy of Smoky Mountain Jeep Club.
Veteran and service dog photos courtesy of Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.