Double Your Donation to NWBB Thanks to the Haider Challenge

UPDATE: As of October 1, 2023, we reached our challenge goal! Thanks to our generous donors and Tony Haider we will be able to gift FOUR service dogs to deserving Veterans! 

Tony Haider is as passionate about Northwest Battle Buddies as a person can get. This longtime supporter, donor, and champion of the NWBB mission was first introduced to Northwest Battle Buddies through an organization he was involved with, the Mustangs Unlimited Car Club in Vancouver, Washington. Each year, the club picks three local charities to raise money for, and that year, Northwest Battle Buddies was on the list.


“And Shannon Walker (founder of Northwest Battle Buddies) came with two of the Veterans and two of the service dogs, and I saw this energy come out of this woman that I’ve never seen before, with so much passion, so much authenticity, so much positive energy that I’ve never felt before,” Haider explained. 


A few months after the club’s event, Haider’s wife, Susan, asked him what he wanted for Christmas. Haider says that while he usually talked her out of getting him anything, this time she was insistent. Still thinking about the gravity of Northwest Battle Buddies’ mission and the impact of Walker’s presentation, Haider told her he’d like to donate even more to the organization. 


“So we go to NWBB, we sit down with Shannon Walker, we asked her: what does it cost, from a puppy to a graduating dog? And she goes, ‘Well that’s a great question.’” 


Although she didn’t know the answer, Walker estimated that the cost of training and taking care of a dog was about $15,000.


 “And Susan wrote a check out for $15,000. And so, I shed some tears, I said I am the luckiest guy in the world, getting the best Christmas present that I could ever ask for,” Haider recalls. 


Even though he is no longer married to Susan, Haider says he gives her a lot of credit for helping to ignite his personal relationship with NWBB. The following year, Walker did finally figure out what it truly costs to take care of and train a Northwest Battle Buddies service dog, discovering that it’s closer to $25,000- $30,000. 

From that point forward, the Haiders began donating $35,000 every Christmas, thinking of it as donating “a team”: $25,000 for the dog and $10,000 to cover costs for the Veteran and anything else that’s needed. 


Haider says that for him, working with Northwest Battle Buddies is personal. Like Walker, whose father was and continues to be extremely important to the Northwest Battle Buddies mission, a man in his life named Jim Rominger, who acted as a father figure to Haider, made a huge impact on him and inspired him to help others. 


“He was like my dad. My values, my morals, those were all shaped by Dad Rominger,” says Haider. 


The year Rominger passed away, Haider donated the funds for an extra dog in his honor. 


Since that Christmas many years ago, Haider has been a dedicated donor and passionate sponsor of Northwest Battle Buddies on every level, increasing his contributions when he can and encouraging others to do the same. 


That was the motivation for Northwest Battle Buddies’ “Haider Challenge,” which is going on for all of 2023. Haider will match up to $50,000 donated to the organization, which means that if they can raise that amount, it will turn into $100,000 that can be used to train service dogs to help Veterans with PTSD. 


Haider believes this donation could have a significant impact on how many Veterans NWBB is able to help. 


“I would love to see that waiting list that can be up to three years⸺I would love to see that waiting list come down to six months,” Haider says. 

The transformations that Haider has witnessed during his time with Northwest Battle Buddies have been life-changing, and not just for the Veterans. 


One of the first Veterans Haider remembers meeting many years ago could not give him eye-to-eye contact, he says. Three months later, he was able to briefly look up and exchange a few words. After six months, the Veteran could say “Things are getting better.” 


“One year after he graduated he’s holding a job, talking to people, helping other Veterans. I mean, how can you put a price on that? It’s just amazing, the transformation,” Haider says. 


Haider says that a motto Walker often repeats when promoting Northwest Battle Buddies is “Serving those who serve us all.” But another phrase that he doesn’t hear as often is the one that Haider keeps in the back of his mind: “We save lives, one dog at a time.” 


“And to be part of that 100th graduation, and now to be part of that 200th dog being feels amazing,” Haider says, a swell of emotion in his voice. 


For anyone who is considering donating to Northwest Battle Buddies, Haider says he would encourage them to learn more about what they do and the impact they have not just on Veterans but on their families, friends and communities. 


“You’re not going to see another organization that is more passionate about helping Veterans than this. The energy that they have, the drive...[they’re] just so focused on making sure these Veterans get the help they need,” Haider explains. 


Haider says he would invite them “to see, firsthand, how these dogs transform the lives of these Veterans, men and women, and then “tell me if you’re not going to donate or not.” 


Visit this page to learn more about the Haider Challenge and to donate. 


Double Your Donation Today

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