Vol. 110 (2021)

The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation's

Dog of the Year - Winners (2020)




Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 had a significant impact on everyone, especially charities. One charity that is particularly important to Stay Thirsty Magazine is The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation, a public nonprofit charitable organization, founded in 2004 in memory of Ryan Licht Sang who passed away from Bipolar Disorder that year at the age of 24.


With a mission to foster awareness, understanding and research for early-onset Bipolar Disorder, the Foundation launched a very creative GoFundMe campaign that ran for the last five months of 2020. During those stressful days as the US watched the COVID epidemic spread and the death toll climb, the Foundation turned to the comfort of dogs as a symbol of unconditional love and a soothing force in life. The Foundation thought a positive effort that could bring joy to everyone and help carry out its mission at the same time felt right.


As a result, the Foundation initiated a DOG OF THE YEAR (2020) campaign to spread awareness and understanding about Bipolar Disorder and encouraged people to start their own team or establish their own fundraiser by featuring a photograph of their special dog, and to compete with others around the US for the title of DOG OF THE YEAR and for Most Heartwarming Story. With a goal to raise $5,000 for this inaugural effort, the campaign exceeded its goal by raising a total of $7,154.

On January 31, 2021, the Foundation announced the winners of the 2020 competition: WALDEN E. CRUMBWORTHY of Team Lockshin (left photo) on being named DOG OF THE YEAR (2020) for raising the most funds for the Foundation during this campaign, and BAGEL of Team Bagel (right photo) on being chosen by New York Times bestselling author Susan Wilson for having the Most Heartwarming Story.

SUSAN WILSON: It is my great pleasure and honor to have been asked to judge The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation's Dog of the Year Award for 2020. As you can imagine, each of the submissions came from the heart of the person writing it and made judging, an inherently subjective exercise, a challenge. I read and reread each entry, balancing the intent of the contest with the content of the essay. Each clearly demonstrated the bond between dogs and their people. 


Here are the stories of Walden and Bagel as written by their owners:



Walden E. Crumbworthy 

Walden E. Crumbworthy

"My name is Walden E. Crumbworthy. I am a Bernedoodle puppy born in May of 2020. I love to play, nap, scavenge for treats, but most importantly, I love showing my support to humans with Bipolar Disorder. I have a human sibling with Bipolar so this cause is near and dear to my heart. Please donate to my fundraiser to the Bipolar Foundation to raise money and awareness! Being awarded Dog of the Year will make me happier than all of the belly rubs in the world."





"Hi, my name is Bagel. I live in Chicago and I love people, string cheese and ear scratches (and especially people who give me string cheese and ear scratches).

I am known for my wiggly butt. I was born without a tail (I just have a little nubbin), so when I am happy to see you (which is always because I love you very much), I wiggle my entire back half. This seems to make people happy, and I like to make people happy.


"Unfortunately, some people have a hard time being happy. People who struggle with Depression, Bipolar Disorder and other mental illness are often not able to control their emotions or actions, no matter how much they want to. Mental illnesses are diseases of the brain – they are no different from diabetes, heart disease or cancer and they can be just as deadly. If I could wiggle my butt to make mental illness go away, I would. But instead, I am raising money to help fund research that will help to treat Bipolar Disorder, which is a particularly complex mental illness.

"Bipolar Disorder involves periods of being extremely 'up,' (elated, irritable, or energized behavior – known as manic episodes) to very 'down,' (sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods – known as depressive episodes). The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation is a non-profit organization that is working to fund research that could eventually find a test for Bipolar Disorder. The thing about Bipolar Disorder is that it's super hard to diagnose, which makes it even harder to treat. If there was a test, that would help people who are suffering get treatment that much faster. It would mean they could be happy that much sooner. And, as I mentioned, I like it when people are happy.


"I would love your help as I raise money for The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation. If you can contribute, that would be great. If you can share this page with your friends and family, that would be great, too. The fact that you even came to this page makes me very happy!


"Thank you for your time and your support. I love you more than string cheese."


Although the 2020 DOG OF THE YEAR campaign is over, the Foundation welcomes donations to help the cause and to make a difference in the course of Bipolar Disorder so that millions of people with this illness can see a brighter day.


If people want to show their support of The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation, below is a handy blue button to click.




Susan Wilson's upcoming book, What A Dog Knows, will be released in June 2021 by St. Martin's Press.






The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation   

Susan Wilson    



All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.