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Strand Notebook | SC-CARES rescue shelter seeks help as founder battles disease

Cindy Hedrick nuzzles Cupid as Sassy waits her turn at S.C. Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary in Georgetown County in 2014.
Cindy Hedrick nuzzles Cupid as Sassy waits her turn at S.C. Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary in Georgetown County in 2014. The Sun News file

S.C. Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary, the nonprofit animal rescue center operated by husband-and-wife team Skip Yeager and Cindy Hedrick, is currently providing homes for 156 animals with life stories that may make you weep.

Troubles are not new to Skip and Cindy; they have had to struggle to keep the refuge going. But the struggle they are facing now is like none they’ve ever encountered. Skip has multiple myeloma. Cindy is committed to taking care of him and doing all she can to extend his life, and so is he. They love each other, and they love those animals, so taking good care of them is as important now as it has been since they started SC-CARES in 2006.

They desperately need donations so they can hire someone to help. They can’t hire anyone until they have the income to pay them, so they are appealing to the public, hoping to reach beyond their faithful supporters to others who share their love of animals and can donate.

SC-CARES runs on fundraisers, donations and tours. With Skip taking chemotherapy, hoping to improve his condition and get a stem-cell transplant, the tours have been canceled. “There’s no time. It’s just all been overwhelming. It’s not just Skip and I, it’s 156 animals that depend on us,” Cindy said.

Skip and Cindy own and operate Sweeties, a small candy store on Front Street in Georgetown, to support themselves. Skip reacted badly after his first treatment and had to be hospitalized. He doesn’t know exactly what went wrong, so they are hoping that doesn’t happen again. Along with the terror they are feeling because of his diagnosis, even with insurance, his medical bills are draining them, and a GoFundMe.com page has been set up to help with those.

SC-CARES is a wildlife rescue and rehab center, an educational animal sanctuary and environmental center located in the Georgetown area. It provides a no-kill/no-breed haven for abused, neglected and unwanted exotic animals, and for nonreleasable wildlife.

Cindy said they have some very good volunteers, but what they need now is an employee or two, someone they can train once and depend on. Many of the animals have special needs, and teaching someone how to handle each one of them takes time.

In a YouTube video made shortly after his diagnosis, Skip pleads for help for the animals. “We’re extremely short-handed now, and we’ve been trying for years to get the income to the point where we can hire some part-time people to provide consistent animal care and manpower,” he said. “We can’t do it by ourselves; we need help.”

“People have lived years and years after this,” he said of his diagnosis, “and I hope I’m going to be around to see SC-CARES grow into a world-class sanctuary.”

Skip’s video can be seen on the SC-CARES Facebook page and website, along with videos he is making as he walks the unfamiliar road known only to cancer victims.

Groups or individuals who want to help monetarily can find ways to do that at www.sc-cares.org or at SC-CARES on Facebook. The link to the GoFundMe page for medical expenses is on those sites. Donations can be mailed to SC-CARES, 236 Abbeville Drive, Georgetown, S.C. 29440.

Contact PEGGY MISHOE at pegmish@sccoast.net or 365-3885.

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