Finding Peace Through Whales

Imagine for a moment that you are in a boat off the coast of the Dominican Republic, a pod of humpback whales is nearby in a closely guarded sanctuary where these marine mammals come to mate, give birth, and nurse their young. In a respectful, calm, and gentle manner, you slip quietly into the saltwater. You submerge your head and at once the outside world goes away while your ears fill with the song of the whales. It seems as if it's just you and these majestic creatures floating in a world of blue, with just enough light filtering through to give you the sense you are dreaming. Rarely does one get the opportunity to experience a privilege such as this in a lifetime, and I have been blessed with an invitation to participate.

Caregivers know the emotional price that is paid to be of service to others. Personal sacrifice and sadness are not strangers to us. Human medical professionals, first responders, social workers, animal welfare advocates and veterinary professionals all experience some level of compassion fatigue throughout their careers (to name a few).

I am a caregiver in animal welfare and veterinary medicine. I am also a wife and mother. As so many do, I struggle with finding the balance between being there for others, being there for myself, and meeting the demands of my job. After 11 years of living in service for animals, followed by a year of personal struggle, I have reached a point where I can step back from all that has happened and cogitate. Where am I in life? What are my goals for the future? Am I the wife I want to be? The mother I want to be? How can I grow, be better, do more, while also nurturing my family, friends and self? These are questions best answered in an environment of peace and quiet reflection.

Having a 7½ month old son and all the financial responsibilities that go along with life and being a homeowner, my husband and I simply cannot afford to pay for me to attend this amazing trip. As a result, I am reaching out to you. Your generous gift will go towards the basic expenses of trip fees (including meals, lodging, shared cost of boat charter, etc.) and airfare.

I have only 21 days to raise $8000 - that's not much time! Please help me by also sharing my campaign with those you know. If I do not manage to raise the money by the deadline (September 11, 2013), there is no worry on your end for receiving a timely refund. You simply will not be charged the transaction.

As a thank you to my supporters, I have created a blog to keep you informed during the months leading up to the trip, throughout the trip (though I suspect I will have to post them when I'm back on land), and after the trip to share with you my experience and the impact it had in all areas of my life. This blog can be found at As well, for those who gift $50 or more I will host a party after my return featuring my experience and the lessons learned. Please don't be put-off by this "reward", for any amount helps (truth be told, a level reward is required for the all-or-nothing model of individual fundraising on this site).

With only one spot remaining on this amazing adventure, I am grateful for this opportunity and hope that you will help me turn this unique and special invitation into reality.

This invitation has been extended to me by my close friend (and boss) Windi Wojdak, who wrote the following:

There are folks in this world who quietly dedicate themselves to caring for others. Who work long and hard to make some corner of the world a better place. They aren't 'in it' for money or recognition and so they go quietly underpaid and often under-appreciated. Erin is one of these people. Dedicated, compassionate and generous in every sense, she works tirelessly for animals and for communities in need. She is always there for friends, family and colleagues. And she deserves a break!

Erin has the opportunity for a once in a lifetime experience swimming with wild humpback whales in the waters off of the Dominican Republic in the spring of 2014. This amazing trip promises to be an incredible journey and magical experience that will recharge her spirit and allow her to return to her work and her family with new energy and perspective.

With all of her financial resources dedicated to her home and family, Erin needs our help to make this trip happen. This trip would be more than a chance to get away or an exciting adventure. It would be a gift to Erin's spirit from her friends and family in appreciation of all of the love, dedication and kindness that she brings to the world.

I can't think of anyone who deserves this opportunity more. Let's help make it a dream come true!


  • Elizabeth Berliner 
    • $50 
    • 93 mos
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    • $100 
    • 93 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 93 mos
  • Jim & Charlotte Dugar 
    • $50 
    • 93 mos
  • Tammy Rouse 
    • $25 
    • 93 mos
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Erin Dugar Ludwig 
Longmont, CO
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