My friend Sara has a son Toby, who needs our assistance. He is 10 years old and he has cerebral palsy.
David's older brother Marshall had cerebral palsy, and it was when he was 10 that his mother could no longer lug him around, what with two more children to take care of at that time (it was the 1940s, not today -- a different world where there was no assistance but for the family members) and he had to move to the Tewksbury State Hospital in Massachusetts, where he lived the rest of his life. He died a few years ago. He lived a long life, and he was much loved. As I told Sara, he could not speak but he was an excellent communicator. He read voraciously, though he could not sit up straight. He used to wheel and deal at the hospital by selling cigarettes and betting on horses and sports games. He was often described as The Mayor of Tewksbury State Hospital. He was quite the man.
So when Sara asked me to help out, she really touched a nerve.
Toby would like to have a service dog, and he explains why so eloquently here. Sara researched all the service dog agencies and feels most comfortable about NEADS.
She explains a little bit about her search process here:
I spent a fair amount of time picking an organization to work with. Many won't work with kids. A few gave off some serious "scam" alarm bells (e.g., one required a 15K fundraising effort, which ok, but if the dog didn't work out and was a poor match? it was too bad - if you wanted another dog - you had to start all over again and raise another 15k). Mostly, this organization has been around for a long long time, it started working with "hearing ear" dogs for deaf clients (a draw for me given that I work at a college for deaf students), AND they run two really awesome shelters too - a dog one and a cat one.
But they need to raise quite a lot of money to be able to get their dog for Toby -- about $8,000 more.
They'll now match us with a dog to be trained for Toby. (They'll do that once you've raised about $1,000.) Once the dog is trained, then we'll have to go through a week-long training too. Then, Toby will have a dog :) Though, until he's 14 I'll be a partner in the effort - he'll need a grownup team member.
See Toby's page, and if you can, make your donation there. Sara and I and Toby thank you.