Castalia woman nominated for CNN Hero of Year - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Castalia woman nominated for CNN Hero of Year

The bald eagle rescued by Rutger. The bald eagle rescued by Rutger.
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CASTALIA, OH (Toledo News Now) -

An Erie County woman is in the running for a big honor: CNN Hero of the Year.

Mona Rutger, of Castalia, has dedicated her life to helping wounded animals. Now her service is being recognized worldwide.

"Once my children were grown, it just felt like I had to do it," Rutger said. "I did feel like it was what I was supposed to be doing. It just sort of found me."

She's helped animals in distress throughout Erie County for years, nursing them back to health before releasing them back to their homes.

One of her patients was a bald eagle, who broke its wing after being clipped by a jet. While its injuries are too severe to go back into the wild, it now has a home and is used to teach students and tour groups about protecting wildlife.

"Ninety percent of what we were taking in were animals that were wrapped in fishing lines or caught in plastic water bottle rings, all kinds of human materials," Rutger explained. "None of that has anything to do with nature, and everything to do with humans destroying the habitat."

She says she didn't go into it for the fame, but being nominated for CNN Hero of the Year is an amazing honor.

"I love that our work is being recognized as something of value and a benefit to the community," she said. "That means so much to me."

With enough support, Rutger's non-profit organization, Back to the Wild, could get a $50,000 check to help with funding, which she says she desperately needs.

The top ten finalists for this year's CNN Hero of the Year will be announced on Thursday. From there, voters will decide who wins.

See Rutger's biography on CNN here.

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