It’s hard to find a picture of Patrick Roemer without a dog on his lap.
“Cici was our black lab. We got her seven years ago and her and Patrick were soul mates,” Patrick’s sister, Magdelene Roemer said.
Patrick Roemer was many things – a son, a brother, an accomplished athlete and scholar. But he was also a young man who at times struggled with anxiety and depression.
“On Patrick’s darkest days he was always able to be lifted up a little by his animals,” his mom Fronzie Roemer said.
When his beloved lab Cici unexpectedly passed, it took a heavy toll on Patrick Roemer. His family got him a new puppy but this last spring the darkness he felt was just too much.
Patrick Roemer’s absence prompted his family to do something to help other young people who are struggling.
“We decided to start Paws for Patrick shortly after Patrick passed away,” Fronzie Roemer said.
Paws for Patrick is a foundation that helps young people dealing with mental health issues by connecting them with emotional support animals.
Jake Conway was their first recipient.
“‘Paws for Patrick’ helped me locate the dog, they financially helped acquire the dog and got some training for the dog,” Conway said.
The sweet golden retriever was a game changer.
“Theo is like a best friend for me. He’s there when I need him, he provides motivation to get up in the morning and with me throughout the day,” Conway said.
For him, Theo has been not just a companion, but the one thing that has carried him through the pandemic isolation.
“He’s just a great support – through college and the difficulties we’ve had through remote learning. He’s just been a great support through all that,” he said.
Patrick Roemer’s family knows the power a dog has to lift a person’s spirit.
“We often say Cici helped Patrick’s heart,” Magdelene Romer said.
And now, their own hearts seeing others heal in his memory.
“It’s one thing in these really really hard times that puts a smile on our faces. We see that connection and we know that Patrick is smiling as well,” Fronzie Roemer said.