Thursday, November 27, 2008

A quick note

To everybody who has helped us....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Over half way and heading for home!

Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful little girl from Amelia's school. She's in first grade. She'd been using her own hard earned money to buy paper dog bones at school for Amelia's fundraiser. If you have kids this age, you know they generally don't bring in a lot of income, so when I found out she had bought eleven bones, I was touched. As usual, I couldn't find anything more eloquent to say than "thank you". But I hope that she and all the other kids at school know what a wonderful thing they're doing.

You may have noticed the big jump in our fundraising total since the beginning of the month. We sure did! (And no, that total does not include the school fundraising money yet.)

This whole process has been surprising on a regular basis. In my mind at least, when I saw our fundraising goal of $13,000, I thought getting it done in a year would be pretty good. And here we are past the halfway point after two short months. And we know of some more donations that aren't included in that total yet, but that'll push us a good bit higher.

Even with the economy looking a little worse every day, people are still giving. Generosity is coming from all over. People giving money, giving time, sharing ideas, offering encouragement, spreading the word. We've gotten plenty of donations from friends and family, but also from organizations and groups and churches... from a Walmart store 30 miles away. From an office services business in another state. From people we don't know. In fact, in some cases, we don't even know where the donations came from at all.

What we thought would happen was that we'd send out letters and emails to family, friends, and co-workers, and we'd get an initial surge of donations. Then we'd contact local businesses and hope to get some more. Then donations would plateau, and we'd have to hope for some media coverage and start organizing fundraising events.

What's actually happened is the opposite. Word has spread. The idea has snowballed. More and more people are getting involved, and the number of donations has increased over time.

We're not really getting big chunks of money from corpoorations or grants or wealthy benefactors. Almost all of our money has come in increments of $20, $50, or $100 - or in paper dog bones by the hundreds.

I hope to get some pictures to share soon.


Friday, November 14, 2008

4 Paws service dog stories

Sometimes it's hard to describe all the benefits these service dogs can bring, so I thought I'd share an occasional story from an online 4 Paws support group. Many members of the group stay on even after they have their dogs, to lend support, encouragement, and ideas to the rest of us. And share success stories, like this one from Jen Hanselman (used with permission):

I had to take Kyle for a blood draw yesterday, which is usually a screaming meltdown that requires three people to hold him down while they try to find a vein in his flailing arm. Thanks to Teton the Wonder Dog, we tethered up, walked in nicely, sat nicely in the waiting area and I could sign the papers without having Kyle in a death grip between my knees. During the actual blood draw, Kyle sat very calmly and only whimpered a little, at which Teton got up and butted the nurse's leg like a goat as if to say, "Hey! What are you doing to my boy?!" When it was done, we walked out nicely and got right back in the car with no fuss. Total 180 from the last blood draw! Wa-hoo Teton!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Thank You

Our friend Casey of Fields of View Photography is donating all proceeds from the sale of the two photos below to 4 Paws for Ability on behalf of Amelia. You can purchase them here if you're interested. She's also inspired a fundraiser in the online group Big Damn Crafters.



Monday, November 3, 2008

Our daughter the celebrity

Kids rule. (And so do their parents.)

Last week we went over to the YMCA to collect some money being donated for Amelia. It was so touching to see a couple dozen kids come out together, with their banner and their smiles, to give us the money they themselves had collected. So far. They decided to keep their fundraiser going until we reach our goal.

The kids were apparently eager to meet Amelia, so after some group photos, they surrounded her like she was Miley Cyrus or something. She just smiled and turned around to look at all of them, not sure what to make of it. We were so appreciative of the work these kids had done, and they seemed really proud to have helped. And well they should be.

Then tonight I went over to the school with Amelia and Edson for parent-teacher conferences while Lori stayed home with sick baby Owen.

As mentioned previously, Westfall Elementary also set up a fundraiser for Amelia. Edson came home from kindergarten the Friday before last and said "Amelia was on TV at school today." Apparently they had her appear on their closed-circuit morning school "news broadcast," explaining to the kids about the fundraiser. They also sent home a flyer with all the students, telling them to save their quarters. They made a huge drawing of a dog, and for 50 cents, kids could buy paper dog bones and stick them on the dog picture.

Tonight I got to see the famous dog picture. It's about four feet high and six feet long. And completely covered in bones. They are overlapping and spilling out around the edges. They told me it took just two days to fill. So they added a huge dog house, probably six feet by seven feet. Also completely covered. And a huge dog dish. And a huge ball. Covered. They even traced Amelia herself and made a big cutout of her, with a flowered shirt and a photocopied head, holding some bones in her hand. So adorable. They told me they won't cover her up though. :-)

And that's not all. Everybody I ran into had something more to share. Amelia's preschool teacher showed me a note from one of the parents of a classmate. This little preschooler had donated his entire allowance to help Amelia. Another teacher told me they were thinking of expanding the fundraiser to the middle school. Someone else told me the total was over $1400 in just one week. Another teacher commented that some students were asking really great questions and having really good discussions about things like disabilities and service dogs as a result.

The preschool teacher in the room across the hall from Amelia's was telling me that kids are starting to recognize her around the school, saying "hi" and interacting with her. As if to confirm her comments, just after that, a little girl, probably four, came up to her and said, "Hi Amelia! Do you want to play with me?" We heard several parents walking past saying, "Is that Amelia" or kids saying, "There she is!" And greetings everywhere we turned. I remember when I was in elementary school, the special needs kids were often shunned, mocked, teased, or even feared. It was amazing to see such a contrast.

I don't know if any YMCA participants or Westfall Elementary students or parents or teachers are reading this, but if you are, THANK YOU! I couldn't even properly express my gratitude to all these people tonight for fear of getting choked up. After we left, I couldn't wait the ten minutes it would take to drive home, so I called Lori from the parking lot. Only it didn't make for a very coherent story, because I could barely get the words out.