Todd Nicely, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Receives a Service Dog After Incredible Sacrifice

Todd Nicely
Todd Nicely

CHAMP Assistance Dogs/Todd Nicely

Almost 12 years after nearly losing his life to an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in the Marines, Todd Nicely is healing from the incident with the help of a special companion.

The St. Louis veteran joined the Marines in 2007, reported KMOV News 4, and was severely injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving abroad in 2010. Nicely lost his arms and legs after stepping on an IED that almost claimed his life as well.

"I didn't want to put my guys through anything that I wouldn't want to do, so a lot of the times I was in the front," he told the news outlet while recalling the incident that changed his life.

Over the past decade, Nicely has learned to navigate the world with amputated limbs, a way of life that recently became a bit easier thanks to the addition of a service dog.

CHAMP Assistance Dogs in St. Louis, Missouri, gifted Nicely with a service dog named Hugo this holiday season. The nonprofit's mission focuses on connecting service dogs to people with disabilities who need them. Hugo is trained to assist Nicely with his day-to-day tasks, small gestures that add up to significant changes for the veteran.

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Todd Nicely
Todd Nicely

CHAMP Assistance Dogs/Todd Nicely

"Nearly 12 years later, Hugo is part of the family. Having him here to pick things up that I drop is kind of a blessing in disguise. It makes my quality of life is a lot better," Nicely told KMOV News 4.

This improved quality of life is what CHAMP strives to provide veterans and other individuals who benefit from the support of a service dog.

"Hugo is making a difference in Todd's life. It is a wonderful feeling for all of us, and we all rejoice in seeing someone become more independent because a dog is there to help them," Pam Budke, CHAMP Assistance Dogs' executive director, shared with KMOV News 4.

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Nicely hopes that Hugo helps other veterans by showing them it's important to seek assistance when you need help.

"You are supposed to be this tough military man. Now, all of a sudden, you're asking for help. It's like, 'am I weak?' 'No,'" Nicely said.

"It doesn't make you weak. It actually makes you stronger to ask for help," he added.

According to KMOV News 4, it can cost CHAMP Assistance Dogs upwards of $30,000 to train a service dog, which is always gifted to their recipient. To learn more about the nonprofit's life-changing work and how to support these efforts, visit CHAMP Assistance Dogs' website.