Shari Duval, founder of K9s For Warriors was a fierce advocate for veterans everywhere.
Shari began her work as a volunteer for veterans' charities here in Jacksonville, Florida and watched the amazing work being done to empower our military veterans. She saw firsthand the number of warriors returning home with the invisible wounds of war, which inspired her and her family to look for ways to aid these deserving heroes.
When Shari saw the symptoms of PTSD in her son, Brett, a civilian K9 police bomb dog handler who served in Iraq, she found a new mission in life: to put all her time and resources into helping restore the life of her son, and the lives of returning combat veterans. For Shari, it wasn’t only about assisting those who had sacrificed for our freedom anymore - it was about fighting to save their lives.
After two years of research and with the help of Shari’s husband, Bob, and many friends who believed in the mission, including late Rear Admiral Kevin Delaney, they began to form the aspiring organization. Operating from a small house in Palm Valley, Shari took a “boots on the ground” approach to the start-up organization in every way: she traveled up and down Florida to find donors and supporters, while performing all the housework for the initial warriors and dogs herself. Through time and the hard work of gaining supporters, K9s grew and moved into a larger house, and finally to the 9-acre, state-of-the-art facility in Ponte Vedra that was generously donated and opened in the summer of 2015.
For her pioneering service to veterans, Shari has been lauded by her community. In 2012, Shari won the Florida Times-Union “10 Who Make a Difference” award, and in 2017, the same publication honored her with an EVE Award, recognizing the most influential women of the community. In 2017, she was also recognized by Jacksonville TEDx, a chapter of the national TED movement that champions “Ideas Worth Spreading” from forerunners of the world’s greatest minds. She was invited to speak at TEDx’s Annual Conference We, The People held in October at the historic Florida Theater. The daylong conference featured 13 of the State of Florida’s most innovative and influential leaders.