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State Honoree

Darius Brown

Newark, New Jersey

Darius Brown, 13, of Newark, New Jersey, a seventh-grader at North Star Academy, has helped hundreds of dogs find loving homes by making stylish bow ties for them, donating these handmade creations to animal shelters across the country and in the United Kingdom, and promoting dressed-up dogs on his social media accounts. When he was 8, Darius, who was born with speech, fine motor skills and comprehension delay, began working to develop his motor skills by cutting fabric for the hair bows his older sister was making. “I discovered my love for fashion and started making bow ties for myself,” he said. Then, after he heard about all the dogs that were displaced and sent to shelters in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017, “I decided to use my passion for making bow ties to help dogs look cute and dapper” so that they are more likely to be adopted, he said.

Darius began making canine bow ties and donating them to an ASPCA shelter. He also posted pictures of shelter dogs wearing his bow ties on his Instagram page, which now has more than 50,000 followers. As his project expanded, he founded an initiative called “Beaux & Paws,” raised funds online to cover expenses, and started shipping his bow ties to animal shelters all over the country. Darius also has visited shelters in six states to help with adoption events. He figures his efforts have made it possible to find permanent homes for hundreds of dogs that might otherwise have been euthanized. “Animals should not be treated any less than humans,” he said. “We all deserve to live a good life and be happy and loved.”