The Vick House Project

Dog pile: Frisco's Michael Morford could be the poster child for the "If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade Society." A 34-year-old employee of an investment bank, Morford says he went through a period of deep depression in 2006, which he endured with the help of a friend, coming out of it by undergoing a "significant spiritual change." So he did what other men who undergo a spiritual reawakening at midlife do.

He bought a Porsche.

No, wait. We kid. That's what Buzz would do.

In fact, Morford wanted to do something better than that, so last year he and some friends and family created "Jalie's Butterflies," a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping others deal with life-changing events. (It's named for the friend who helped him through his depression.) How exactly the nonprofit would do that, he wasn't sure at first. Then, over the recent holidays, Morford took a vacation in Hawaii, a state known for its spiritual epiphanies and pineapples. He read about the attempts to auction off the home of former Atlanta Falcon's quarterback Michael Vick, who was away on a sort of vacation himself—a 23-month government-sponsored trip to the big house Vick won for his role in running an illegal dog-fighting operation. Quick as you could say "macadamia nuts," it hit Morford: Jalie's Butterflies would raise the dough to buy Vick's former home, a 4,600-square-foot, five-bedroom manse in Newport News, Virginia. They would turn the home into a shelter for abused and mistreated dogs. (You can almost hear Vick say, off in his cell, "Well, shit, that's what I used it for.")

So far, the Vick House Project has raised $11,387 toward buying the house—quite a way from their goal, since the house's current owner recently rejected a $747,000 bid for the property. Morford says the group's effort has just gotten under way with a Web site ( and plans to seek publicity to stir up donations—like this column, for instance. Assuming all goes as hoped, Morford says the group eventually intends to turn operation of the shelter over to an animal-protection group like the SPCA.

"It's been a slow start, but we just got the Web site live last week," Morford told Buzz. The donations so far have come from friends and organizers of the site.

Morford says he sees the project as attempt to turn Vick's disgrace into something positive that will call attention to the plight of abused dogs and, as the Web site reads "give back to the spirit of the animals that were harmed."

We wish him luck, though personally, we would have gone for the Porsche...but, then, Buzz is a cat person.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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