Canines and chicks for the cure

February 4, 2018

Although I'm familiar with Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, I had never heard of Canine Degenerative Myelopathy until our friends Paul and Kari Ainsworth lost their beloved German Shepherd, Mojo, to the disease a few months ago. Mojo was a trained search and rescue dog for Delaware Search and Rescue.

Like ALS/MS, DM is also an incurable, progressive disease.

On Jan. 23, my husband and I attended a Chicks for Charity event held at Hooked Seafood & Martini Bar to learn more about Finding the Cure for DM Foundation Inc. FCDMF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization striving for research and clinical trials whose priority is to find a treatment or cure for DM.

Paul says, "It has been determined that the same recessive gene responsible for DM is responsible for ALS/MS in humans. Onset is typically between the ages of 5 and 14, and although it is more frequent in the German Shepherd dog, the SOD1 gene responsible has shown up in almost 70 breeds. Symptoms of DM include difficulty standing from a lying-down position, dragging one or both hind legs while walking, wobbling while walking, and standing on the tops of the hind feet."

He claims the disease can cause many veterinarians to misdiagnose the dog with old-age arthritis, but there is a simple, inexpensive test for the disease consisting of a cheek swab.

FCDMF is sponsoring several projects. Wheels to Help Me program offers loaner mobility equipment to those in need. New Hope is a research project with the goal of silencing the gene, according to their website,

Chicks for Charity of Southern Delaware is a monthly event which was launched by Marcie Urgo and Kari Ainsworth in July 2010. The two women enjoyed attending Lunch with a Purpose and Women & Wine, and they decided to create their own event.

"We loved getting together with friends once a month for dinner but also wanted to be able to help our community," says Kari, "and Matt Haley of SoDel Concepts was thrilled to host the dinners at Fish On. Now Tom Garvey and his staff have welcomed us with open arms and terrific food at Hooked Seafood & Martini Bar where we can comfortably seat 90 guests and still have space for raffle items and a live auction."

Tom himself serves up the succulent slices of roast beef and barbecued salmon along with roasted potatoes, fresh vegetable medley and decadent desserts.

The cost of the event is $30, and $5 goes directly to the charity, as do the monies from the raffle and silent auction. Contrary to the name "Chicks," it's not just for women, and all age groups are represented.

Since 2010, Chicks has raised over $73,000 for various charities, including Alex's Lemonade Stand, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, La Esperanza, Clothing Our Kids, Grass Roots Rescue, and Read Aloud Delaware.

The events are held January through November, usually on the third Tuesday of the month. Visit their website, If you wish to reserve a seat or join the mailing list, contact

Bring cash or check to the event if you wish to participate in the raffle or silent auction. Other 501(c)(3) organizations can request an application! Call Marcie Urgo, 302-542-3999 or Kari Ainsworth, 302-362-2033.

Hooked Seafood & Martini Bar is located in the Midway Shopping Center at 18585 Coastal Hwy. Unit 23, Rehoboth Beach.