Our Special Sponsor & Best Pen Pal... David Hopps
David Hopps, a seventh
grader at Wolfe Middle School in Centerline, MI, northeast of Detroit, is Arnold
Wildlife Rehabilitation Center’s favorite pen pal. Not only does he email Sue
Arnold on a regular basis, but when he comes to visit Sue actually allows him
into the spacious pens to help her feed the
“Not everybody gets to do that,” says Sue. “You have to be a really special
person.” (Of course, only Sue feeds the panthers!)
Each year David and his parents,
Jennifer and Dave, drive down to Okeechobee, FL to see his grandparents. While
visiting, they also like to participate in local activities and find neat places
In 2008, David, a consummate animal lover, pulled up the Arnold’s Wildlife
Rehabilitation Center website -- and was hooked. His initial visit to Arnold’s
Wildlife that April left him impressed, not just with the animals but also that
just Sue and a handful of women cared for all the creatures, 200 permanent
residents and however many injured or orphaned animals in temporary care. And
everything was funded by donations alone.
“She needs help,” David told his parents. David made a list of things he
wanted to get for the wildlife center. For the next several months, he saved his
$3-per-week allowance, plus collected cans and bottles to return for their
10-cent apiece deposit. By the time David and his parents were ready to drive
back down to Okeechobee in June 2009, David had saved $116. He shopped at a pet
warehouse K9 Specialty Store and ACO Hardware for animal bedding, food, bowls
and brooms for Arnold’s Wildlife. There was just enough room left in the bed of
the truck to squeeze everything in after their luggage!
David presented the items to Sue and spent the day helping out at the center.
Anyone who volunteers at the center knows it is hard work, yet for David it was
a learning experience filled with joy.
Our pen pal, David, is already looking forward to next year’s visit. He plans to
focus on buying different items each year, such as food, toys or cages.
David is thinking of the future. He wants his own wildlife rehabilitation center
and to attend Michigan State University for a veterinary degree. In the
meantime, he aims to take extra science and biology courses throughout middle
and high school to help prepare him for vet school. Plus, of course, he plans to
spend time at the wildlife center each year during the visit to his
“I like the way Ms. Sue does everything herself, and I love her spirit,” David
says. “I also like the way she cares about her animals – how they are feeling
and what they are doing.” Apparently, the feeling is mutual. “David has an
exceptional feeling for animals, “Sue says, “He is a smart and dedicated young
man. We are going to be friends for a very long time, and I’ll enjoy seeing him
each summer. “