In 2019, Sharita Sloan of Glenwood lost the love of her life to liver cancer.
Following his death, Sloan battled depression and suicidal thoughts, compounded by the pandemic.
"If I could have just said okay and stopped breathing, I would have,” said Sloan. “I couldn’t get out of the bed.”
Two months before her husband’s death, he had asked Sloan to go to South Suburban Humane Society to “pet the animals.” Sloan and her husband, Michael, went home with a dog that day.
Michael named their new dog after Sharita’s Yoruban name, Lola.
“I was like, okay, I feel some kind of way about having a dog named after me, but that’s what he wanted,” said Sloan.
In the weeks following, Michael got weaker, but Lola was always there. On the evening of Memorial Day 2019, Michael took his last breath in Sharita’s arms.
“He looked at me and he said, ‘I love you baby, I love you forever. Don’t you cry,’” said Sloan. “He took a breath and passed away in my arms.”
When Sloan was in her darkest moments, Lola filled the void in Sloan’s life.
One day, Sloan figured out what her late husband had done.
“I thought about it. Lola and Lola? By him naming the dog after me, every time I say I love you Lola, it’s getting into me,” said Sloan. “It’s my spirit. I love me.”
The life-saving pet adoption story caught the eyes of the PETCO Foundation after Sloan entered Lola’s story, and now the South Suburban Humane Society is in the running for a $100,000 grand prize.
In an emotional interview, Emily Klehm, the CEO of SSHS, says the financial grant would be a game-changer.
“Getting that reminder that every life matters, every day matters, it’s very emotional because especially in 2020, it’s just one of the hardest years that any of us have faced,” said Klehm.
Klehm says the SSHS is focusing on assisting existing owners with food and pet supplies in order to keep room open at the shelter for other pets in need.
SSHS will automatically be granted $5,000 for being named a finalist in the contest.
Starting December 1st, the public can vote here for the shelter to be awarded an additional $25,000. After clicking on the link, search for South Suburban Humane Society, and enter your email to cast your vote.
Klehm says they will know if they win the grand prize later this month.
Sloan says she is thankful for the work SSHS does because it brought Lola to her.
“I’m happy to be able to give something back to them for what they gave me.”