Gabe Ford, Izzy, and Rhonda Hillman’s Bio

Dubbed the “Voice for America’s Bullied” by the Huffington Post

Gabrielle Ford and her mother Rhonda never dreamed that a long-eared coonhound could change their life.

But that’s just what happened when they cared for Gabe’s ailing pet Izzy and found the voices to help others in need as nationally-known motivational speakers.

Gabe and Rhonda’s incredible story has drawn media attention from The Today Show, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Animal Planet, among others.

Don't laugh at me.

Gabe’s autobiography Still Dancing and Gabe’s youth book Gabe & Izzy (Standing Up for America’s Bullied) by Penguin Random House Publishing, shares even more of the inspirational details from their life as a way to encourage others that anything is possible.

Still Dancing

Still Dancing

One Dream, One Dog

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Gabe & Izzy - Standing Up for America's Bullied

Gabe & Izzy

Standing Up for America’s Bullied Available at Penguin Random House

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Gabe & Izzy - Standing Up for America's Bullied Audiobook

Gabe & Izzy Audiobook

Standing Up for America’s Bullied Available at

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As a child, Gabe loved dancing and dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina. That dream was shattered by a rare genetic neuromuscular disease known as Friedreich’s Ataxia, which would eventually place her in a wheelchair.

Gabe and her family not only struggled with the devastation of her illness, but also the relentless and cruel bullying she endured from classmates. The endless torment took her on a path of depression and isolation.

That all changed when Izzy, a long-eared coonhound pup, entered Gabe and Rhonda’s life and landed them on Animal Planet TV.

Izzy became their best friend and constant companion. When this ‘special friend’ mysteriously developed a muscle condition mirroring Gabe’s, Gabe re-entered the world to get Izzy the best treatment available.

Speaking out for the voiceless, Izzy gave her and her mother Rhonda the courage to speak out for another unrepresented group: the thousands of children bullied in American schools every day.

Through countless personal trials, Rhonda and Gabe found their way back to the stage as outspoken advocates against school bullying.

In addition to their countless school visits, they’ve also been keynote speakers at various conferences and conventions across the United States.

Their dedication earned Gabe her many awards including the USA TV Network Characters Unite Award, the Delta Kappa Gamma State of MI, the Distinguished Service Award, the Toastmasters International Communications & Leadership Award, the Peace Maker of The Year Award (Genesee County MI Gandhi Award), the Community Hero Award, (Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce) as well as the Human Animal Bond Award.

After 13 years of an endless effort to help prevent school bullying, Gabe has chosen to retire from public speaking. Her mom Rhonda, with an energizing passion as well, has proudly accepted the torch to carry-on with the Gabe, Izzy and Rhonda mission… to help students, parents, teachers, and schools confront school bullying head-on.

Where Rhonda, Gabe and Izzy’s story has appeared:

  • Animal Planet’s A Pet Story
  • Cosmopolitan Magazine
  • The Today Show
  • Guideposts Magazine
  • MDA Quest Magazine
  • Woman’s World

Selected appearances include:

  • Michigan Reading Association Annual Convention, Grand Rapids, Michigan, March
  • Michigan US Senate Judiciary Hearing Committee
  • Michigan Civil Rights Anti-Bullying Forum
  • International Reading Association Annual Convention, Phoenix, Arizona,
  • National Ataxia Foundation Association (NAFA)
  • Delta Kappa Gamma International Society State of Oregon Convention
  • Woman World Magazine story
  • Penguin Publishing will release Gabe & Izzy’s first anti-bullying children’s storybook.

Contact information for a speaking engagement by Gabe’s mother Rhonda, please visit

To purchase the Gabe & Izzy book(s), visit the products page at