We’ve always known where we wanted to go with the Show Your Soft Side campaign, but we haven’t always been so clear about the best route to take to get there. Not surprising, considering our entire organization consists of just three people who work on a volunteer basis while straddling other responsibilities and even full time jobs. When you’re that small and thin on assets, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Knowing that, we set out to expand our advisory resources and, ironically, that search led us full circle back to our Softies. We’re thrilled to announce that the following individuals have come on board in an advisory capacity to help us maximize our efforts to end animal abuse before it starts.
Frank Remesch, GM, Royal Farms Arena
Frank Remesch has built a fifty plus year-old entertainment venue into one of the most successful and profitable in the country. Although nationally known for hosting legends like the Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan and Bruce Springsteen, Frank is an “unsung hero” famous in Baltimore circles for his willingness to come to the aid of homeless animals. A few years ago, when the city was bracing for Hurricane Sandy, he opened the Arena’s doors to temporarily shelter more than 300 animals from BARCS, as that facility braced for flooding. A longtime Dad (and foster) to rescue pups, board member at BARCS, champion to dumped kitties, and co-chair of our annual Pawject Runway event, Frank’s business sense and big heart will serve us well.
Torrey Smith, #11, Wide Receiver, Champion & Force for Change
Although Torrey Smith gained his fame on the football field, it’s the work he does off the field that has earned him even greater accolades. A hands-on Director of the Torrey Smith Family Fund, he’s developed and implemented a number of programs that help kids identify, unleash, and fulfill their potential. Since joining the Soft Side campaign in 2012, Torrey has been an outspoken proponent for adoption and the compassionate care of animals, while not hesitating to speak out against breed specific legislation. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Torrey’s ability to connect with today’s youth and his genuine passion for doing the right thing will help guide us in our efforts to create a new generation of Softies.
Chanel Smith, Teacher, Mother & Change Maker
Few teams are as effective as one that boasts both Torrey and Chanel Smith. Together, these two have transformed the lives of kids in cities from San Francisco to Baltimore while advocating for the defenseless whether they walk on two legs or four. Chanel’s training and experience as an elementary school teacher combined with her passion for effecting positive change through personal example has made her a critical resource to the work of the Torrey Smith Family Fund and a longtime friend to Show Your Soft Side. We look forward to gaining her insights into more effective ways of reaching and resonating with young people.
John Rallo, Founder, Ground Control Academy & Shogun Fights
After earning his black belt from the legendary Renzo Gracie, John Rallo was the driving force behind the legalization of mixed martial arts in Maryland. His Ground Control Academies, located across Baltimore, turn out many of the regions’ best, most disciplined fighters (not to mention, cat and dog lovers). John also operates Shogun Fights, one of the largest regional fight promotions in the country, but even those who aren’t familiar with MMA know Big John as the guy who made cuddling kitties macho. Since becoming one of our founding Softies, he’s been an outspoken advocate for animals both in Annapolis and Washington, sits on the board at BARCS, co-chairs our annual Pawject Runway event, and has “sweet-talked” many others into adopting, fostering and joining the campaign. John’s no-nonsense approach to business and life will make him a critical reality check as we move forward on programs and activities.
John Minadakis, The Man Behind #GetFamous & Jimmy’s Famous Seafood
John Minadakis took a small, family restaurant and grew it into a national brand that’s become synonymous with Baltimore. #GetFamous is now a rallying cry for athletes, celebrities, and everyday seafood lovers across the country as Jimmy’s crab cakes wing their way to cities nowhere near a bay or ocean. As John’s company has grown, so has his commitment to giving back. Jimmy’s Famous Seafood is a major supporter of charities that benefit people and animals throughout Maryland. We’re convinced that John’s innovative marketing sense and ability to create messaging that touches a nerve will help us expand our reach and impact.
John Thompson, Deputy Exec. Director, National Sherriff’s Association
As the Deputy Executive Director of the National Sheriff’s Association, John Thompson is the highest ranking law enforcement official in the nation who is fighting to protect animals from cruelty. Among his many accomplishments, he created the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals (NCOVAA), a multidisciplinary coalition of local, state and national organizations that works to reduce violence against animals, as well as the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA), which seeks not only to educate, but also encourage officers to enforce animal cruelty laws. Although a tough cop, he freely admits that his dog, Mr. PO, is the love of his life.