How a community is coming together to support burn victim

Amanda Wrobel of Lisbon lost her home, her belongings, most of her dogs and cats, and nearly her life in a fire more than two weeks ago. Her Sheltie dog Bella saved her life. And this weekend, Amanda woke up for the first time since the fire in mid-October.

While she lay in intensive care in a medically induced coma with burns over 40 percent of her body, an entire movement of support has arisen around her.

The dog sport community has rallied around her need, holding special fundraisers, giving profits from dog events, and placing jars for donations in a heartfelt campaign dubbed Amanda Strong.

Our special Amanda Strong Flyball MAINEiacs team shirt.

Our special Amanda Strong Flyball MAINEiacs team shirt.


There’s a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $38,000 of a $50,000 goal. There is a Facebook page “Amanda Strong” created by a friend to centralize the effort and drum up additional support.

Amanda has been very active in dog sports in southern Maine and New England. She is known in several circles — rally, obedience, agility, core fitness and more.

She had a mix of dogs for the sports she loves, but only three remain. One dog was unharmed, and two were taken to the emergency vet with burns. News accounts report that more than a dozen dogs and cats died in the fire. The two injured dogs are going to make it, according to the updates on the GoFundMe page.

Amanda was burned, especially her hands and arms, when she tried to save her beloved pets.

She’s begun the slow and painful process of healing. The intense pain from the burns made the medically induced coma necessary, and a few days ago, she had her first of probably several surgeries to rebuild her body’s skin layer.

It will be long, expensive, and painful.

But Amanda’s need has reached well beyond her own circle.

I don’t know Amanda personally, but I was proud to be part of the dog community this weekend during Flyball MAINEiacs’ annual tournament in Boothbay Harbor. Our flyball (dog relay racing) team was decked out in pink Amanda Strong T-shirts with our logo modified into shades of pink and brown and ironed onto the back, instead of our usual black shirts with green, yellow and black logo.

Flyball MAINEiacs, our dog relay-racing team, sporting our special Amanda Strong team shirts.

Flyball MAINEiacs, our dog relay-racing team, sporting our special Amanda Strong team shirts.


We set up a donation jar, and pink T-shirts sporting a heart with a paw inside were offered for sale. We also are donating the profits from our flyball tournament’s annual raffle to Amanda’s cause.

I was struck by the generosity of the dog community, as I have been so many times in the past. Our tournament was not that large, but we raised hundreds of dollars that will help Amanda. Exact figures have not been tallied.

There have been other fundraisers, including agility trials, and a Pampered Chef sale closes on Nov. 11. It can be accessed on the Amanda Strong Facebook page, as can the GoFundMe page. And I’m sure there will be more.

And when Amanda becomes aware of the full impact of her tragedy and the loss of her fur family, her dog community will still be there, offering shoulders to cry on, arms to help hold her up, and love and support to help her keep going and heal.

The dog sports world is a tightknit group when it counts. It pulls together, protects its own, rallies when someone is down. The efforts to help Amanda, and the love and support for her this weekend, were excellent reminders of how important it is to be part of some kind of community.

Selling T-shirts and collecting donations.

Selling T-shirts and collecting donations for Amanda Strong fundraiser.

Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle and Quincy, who keep me busy in various dog sports. I was widowed at age 51 when my husband, Jim, died of pancreatic cancer.