Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Tonight my heart is humble and full of gratitude.I want to tell you about our story. The whole thing. I've been waiting until we got to this point to do it.
At the beginning of the year I came up with this crazy idea of adding a service dog to our family to help Daniel deal with life. I didn't know if it could really happen. All the information I was finding was saying that service dogs are $10,000-$40,000. How could we a small family on one income with a child with special needs come up with that kind of money? I found two places that were in the $10,000 range that I was considering. But that's just the dog. That doesn't include the entire family having to fly down to the lower 48 (which in Alaska IS a big deal), for 2 weeks pay for food and lodging while being trained with the dog on how to use it. I was determined to make this work for us but I didn't know quite how.
I asked the Lord, I found 2 places in AK that trained service dogs. One was only PTSD dogs and the other you had to do the training yourself and commit to several nights a week and weekends and 2 years of training. As a busy Mom trailing a child to daily therapies that was just not going to happen. I heard about a service called 411. I believe it's nation wide and you can call it and they can tell you anything you want to know about your community. I called and asked if they knew of any ways to find grants for service dogs in AK. They didn't but they turned me on to Arctic Paws For Service. I called the guy up and asked about their dogs. He said,  "We have one almost ready to go. He just needs to finish his training." Then I asked the dreaded question.... "How much do you charge?" $5000 was the answer. That I knew we could make happen. We made arrangements to meet and they are wonderful people who are just trying to help others at an affordable price. They also had one other requirement. That we fundraise. They felt it was so important for people in the community to have the opportunity to help each other.
So the effort of fundraising began. How do you do it? I'd worked for a non profit before but I stayed far away from that side of the business as I just don't like asking people for money. So I talked to a couple of contacts that I had made Dana Graham- For the Love of Lauren who absolutely is doing great things in her daughter's memory. Her advice- Just tell your story, put it on paper and hand it out and you will be amazed at how people will respond. The other was Mom in Fairbanks who had previously gone through the fundraising process for a dog for her child. She said they went to local businesses and said if you will donate for our dog we will put your businesses logo on our dog's vest and advertise for you. I figured if they could do it in Fairbanks, surely we could in Anchorage.
So I started writing down Daniel's story. That was hard. There was so much to say and how do you fit it all on one piece of paper? How do you tell complete strangers about your son who you love so much but have to admit his weak points and where he needs help. In the middle of doing this I went to a dentist appointment at Aurora Family Dentistry. I thought okay Lord I'm going try Dana's advice out. If a chance comes up in the conversation I will tell him what I'm doing and let you take over from there. It did, he told me to bring a flyer by and he would see what he could do. He was our first donation.
I had the flyers printed up and the kids were with respite care for a few hours and I knew it was time to start passing them out. I was terrified. I went and got lunch and took it to the Temple grounds and ate it. For those of you reading this who aren't Mormon, our temples are sacred places where we go to feel close to God and receive instruction. I prayed that day that as I went that people would be open and receptive. That people would want to help because I knew that it would be difficult for us to do it on our own. I then started driving. I was in a part of town I'm not usually in and went down a street that frankly I had never been down before. I pulled into a strip mall and said another prayer or two, and just started going into businesses and telling them what I was doing and handing out flyers. And that was a miracle day.
One lady gave me her lunch money, another an older Korean lady who owned a deli insisted that her son write me a check once she understood what I was doing. I walked into a local coffee shop called Kaladi Brothers and told them what I was doing, they offered to let me hang up a flyer and I left. What I didn't know was that the young man that I talked to had only moments before been told by one of his patrons that she wanted to bless his life and was going to give him a very large sum of money for a motorcycle that  he had really been wanting. When I left they both looked at each other and knew that that money was meant for Daniel and together they gave it to him. That same coffee shop put up a cup and continued to collect a couple hundred more dollars from it's patrons for Daniel. That was all from one day. One single day with a prayer in my heart for a little boy who needed and deserved it.
I also shared on Facebook what we were doing and our friends and family and former bosses from all over the world literally gave generously. Reagan got to share in the fundraising fun. As we would go in to various businesses and pass out flyers they invariably had jars of candy. It was like trick or treating for her. She couldn't wait to do more.  I only took Daniel with me once and it was a bit of a disaster so I usually went while he was at therapy or with the respite worker. In the first month or two we had raised almost $3000. We did so well and I was counting on grants that we had been told we were pretty much guaranteed we would get we kind of took the summer off. It was such an amazing one. We were told the dog wouldn't be ready until October so we figured we had a little time. Well I have yet to see any grants, so we shared what we were doing with our church and we were given some very generous donations by members.
Then came August. We were about $700 short and I wasn't too worried but knew now was the time to buckle down and finish. There was one very big problem. Daniel had an operation and was in the hospital for a few days. My back had started acting up (I have two herniated disks) right before and I was doing everything I could to keep it under control because I knew I would be staying at the hospital the whole time with him. Everything went well with the surgery and he came home on a Saturday. Tuesday morning found us in the ER as I couldn't walk or crawl without severe pain and couldn't empty my bladder. They took care of me and sent me home and Thursday morning I was in worse shape. A neighbor took me to the hospital and they worked on me all day finally admitting me that night, with the plan to do surgery. It took 6 days before they had an operating room available for me. I lay there in that bed and that $700 was really weighing on my shoulders. I'm about to have back surgery and we are about 1 month away from getting the dog and I can't do a thing about it. So I just said Lord I need you to take care of this for me. I can't worry about it, I have too much on my plate and I need you to do this for me. And very unlike me, I left it there for him to take care of. A couple of checks came in while I was in the hospital. But today I received word that an anonymous donor had donated $1000 in Daniel's name for his dog.
I can not even begin to express the gratitude that I have in my heart for each of you. Whether you were the one who gave me your lunch money or you gave me a thousand dollars, or just said a prayer or passed the information on to friends, you all helped and you all gave me and my family SO much. And most importantly I am grateful for the Lord who saw our family through this and continues to do so.
October 5th, we get to meet our dog. Anyone want to volunteer to be the other adult for the 10 days of training on the days Paul can't get off work? That's my next prayer to the Lord which I know he will provide for.
My thanks to all of you. I don't even know some of you. but you have blessed our lives and I pray that we in turn will be able to bless the lives of others as well.