Founder of Loudoun-based paws4people wins $100,000 in Ikea contest

By Caitlin Gibson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2011; 11:49 PM

Kyria Henry, a Round Hill resident and the founder of the paws4people foundation, is the grand-prize winner of Ikea's national Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest, it was announced Monday.

The contest, which recognizes people and organizations that improve the lives of others, received nearly 2,000 entries and more than 46,000 online votes, according to the contest Web site.

Henry, 23, will be awarded $100,000 to fund a year-long "sabbatical," during which she will focus on expanding the reach of her organization, she said.

Paws4people is a nonprofit organization based in Loudoun County that operates in nine states, with more than 175 dogs certified to work as service animals aiding special education students, seniors, combat veterans and the seriously ill or disabled. Many of the dogs are trained by inmates in federal correctional institutions in West Virginia and Georgia.

"It's just kind of crazy that it actually came through, so we're still in shock," Henry said Tuesday. "It's really amazing that we were able to have so much support. It's just really humbling."

Henry said that the organization will look to expand its projects and programs.

"We'd like to aim for faster output of more dogs and being able to accept more clients," she said.

The award will benefit the organization not only this year, but will also position paws4people for future growth, she said.

Henry's experience during her year-long sabbatical will be chronicled at .

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