7-year old who saved hundreds of dogs imparts lessons on grade-schoolers

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. -- The kids at Jefferson Elementary School in Mount Vernon gathered for an assembly to meet a truly inspirational person who also happens to be an expert dog rescuer.

Seven-year-old Roman McConn could just as easily be one of their classmates, but he is at the school to encourage those kids to follow their passions.

His passion has led to a milestone. The non-profit he and his family created, Project Freedom Ride, has now rescued more than 1,500 dogs from kill shelters in the south.

“They just need fun,” said Roman. “They don’t need a life in a kennel. They just need to have fun with a human.”

His mom, Jen McConn, says Roman started having fun with those shelter dogs at the age of 4.

“It was very instant for him,” said McConn. “He said, 'We need to find them homes, we need to do something.'”

They began making videos on social media, showcasing shelter dogs -- some with not much time. Roman often introduces the dogs and plays with them on camera. He also sometimes gets emotional when he shows up to the shelter, only to find out some of the dogs are still there and haven’t been adopted.

“I think people see a little guy who is very passionate and actually doing something,” said McConn. “It’s a very genuine plea, and people have gravitated to that immensely.”

He has more than 30,000 followers now on social media and has appeared on national TV as well. The national attention has helped Project Freedom Ride to transport dogs from kill shelters in Texas and Georgia, to loving homes in Washington.

Roman and his mom were on hand recently to help off-load and present those dogs to their new owners in the northwest.

And at Jefferson Elementary, Roman also met some of the first dogs he and Project Freedom Ride helped rescue. They now live with a teacher and his family. And the lesson for all of the kids at the school: find that passion in your life and go after it no matter how old you are.