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inspiring women dating over 50


Helen Woodward Animal Center Blog


For Orly Benaroch Light, her dog of nineteen years, Coco, was more than just her pet. Light shared a special bond with Coco and considered him her ‘soulmate dog’. Coco was well-trained, friendly, calm, and accompanied Light everywhere. Their strong connection made Coco’s passing very difficult and left Light with extreme feelings of loss and sadness.


In an effort to honor Coco’s memory, Light set off on a fundraising cross-country road trip on behalf of the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s “Pets Without Walls” program. This program aims to help the homeless and low-income families by keeping their four-legged companions fed and healthy.


Light believes that pets are not just animals but our friends and loyal companions. For people living in difficult situations, their pets can make a huge difference in their lives.


“A pet can be the one thing that gives them the courage to face each day and to stay alive,” she said. “As a matter of fact, a homeless pet owner would rather sleep on the street than choose a bed in a shelter that doesn’t allow pets.”


On the Open Road


The overall distance of the road trip was around 4,618 miles and her mission was to raise $1 for every mile.


Light’s road trip started in San Diego, California and passed through eight different states to end in Asheville, North Carolina. She made several stops along the way with some of her favorites being the Civil Rights Museum, Graceland in Memphis, Biltmore estate parks and recreations, and Asheville, NC.

Driving for no longer than eight hours a day, allowing breaks every two hours, and booking lodging a week prior to arriving gave Light the flexibility and structure she needed to make the trip work.


Despite this, there were many setbacks along the way such as high-altitude sickness in Telluride, CO, a flat tire in Asheville, NC, and digestive issues in San Antonio, TX that slowed her down. Instead of viewing these setbacks in a negative light, she used them as an opportunity to get to know the town and talk to the locals. In fact, a local she met at a stop in Arizona was so impressed by her fundraising road trip that he donated $500 to the cause.


“Traveling cross-country reminded me that no matter how many microcultures and differences we have, when you bring people together with different worldviews, whether that is work, life, or cultural experience, they bring something to the table that we all collectively learn from. That’s what makes us stronger.”


To commemorate her journey, Light bought some souvenirs along the way for her and her friends. “I bought a silver necklace with a stone from an Indian reservation in Arizona, pickled cucumbers and Jalapeño peppers from Nashville, a T-shirt from the Civil Rights Museum that says, ‘Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History’ and souvenirs for a friend from Graceland.”


The Emotional Ties Live On


Losing her “soulmate dog” was extremely difficult but the decision to go on this road trip helped Light begin the healing process and process her grief.


“Road trips have power. They can be a healthy and healing coping mechanism. I made plenty of stops after listening to a particularly moving podcast, or a song that reminded me of my loss and grief. The freedom to shed tears in the blessed solitude of a car really helps,” Light said. “I finally let go and said goodbye to Coco knowing it’s the end of a physical connection, but the emotional ties live on.”



inspiring women dating over 50


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