Young Future Vet Comes To Bend Eagle's Aid

10-Year-Old Kira Neilsen Helps Patriot, Community

BEND, Ore. - She may be small, but she's got some pretty lofty goals -- and big ideas.

You might recognize 10-year-old Kira Neilsen of Bend from all of her help with the injured bald eagle, Patriot. After he was found clinging to life near La Pine four months ago, Patriot was instantly thrown into the spotlight -- and so was Kira.

"He got hit by a car and broke his wing -- and I broke my arm -- and he paralyzed his foot, so I wanted to help him," Neilsen said recently.

The aspiring veterinarian single-handedly raised more than $1,000 for Patriot's care, got to help in his recovery and collected dozens of fish donated by friends and family.

"It makes me feel good because, now he gets to do a lot of stuff he couldn't used to do," Neilsen said.

But believe it or not, this isn't her first big project. Each month, it's something new, something to help give back.

In September, she participated in the Race for the Cure in Eugene and raised more than $100 for her aunt "T," a breast cancer survivor.

"It made me feel good, because I get to help someone who has cancer, and it's hard for them, so this makes it better for them," Neilsen added.

Then last month, Kira got another idea.

She went to her teachers at Lava Ridge Elementary and pitched the idea of a school-wide poster contest about bullying. Now the halls are lined with different messages and drawings.

The school's staff is more than impressed.

"Being that young and wanting to get out and help and do good and try to inspire others, that's just hope. It's what we need, and that's our leaders," said Ned Myers, student services director at Lava Ridge.

A simple idea, a huge success.

But aside from the projects, Kira said she's just a normal girl who loves to read, jump on the trampoline and do about 60 cartwheels a day.

She also enjoys spending time with one of her long-time friends, 97-year-old Harold Marshall.

"He tells me a lot of stories, and he was the first one to call me Dr. Neilsen," Kira said.

"Doctor Neilsen" is a big ducks fan. But the University of Oregon doesn't have a veterinary program, which means she might become an Oregon State University Beaver.

"I'll still support the Ducks, but I'll have to go to OSU and it's going to be hard," Neilsen said.

Since all the Patriot attention, Kira said she's been recognized around town. But she says she doesn't do it for all the attention

"I do all these projects so other people can be happy," she said.

Kira had to say farewell to Patriot this month, when he was taken to the Blue Mountain Wildlife refuge in Pendleton to live out his days.

But it's a memory this community and Kira hope to keep forever.

"It was very hard to say bye to him," she said. "But he's still going to a great place, and I'll still get to go see him."

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