Sponsor a Client

My name is April Alford-Harkey and I am the chaplain for St. Vincent's Special Needs Services in Trumbull and Stratford, Connecticut. I provide pastoral care to special needs adult participants, students, staff, parents, and caregivers. We all know the mystical relationship that often occurs between animals and humans. A ministry dog will allow me to connect to non-verbal participants, those on the autism spectrum and others who have a difficult time communicating with the world. The ministry dog will also provide special needs participants with an unconditionally loving presence, and an often much needed opportunity to experience loving touch. We need your help to bring this special ministry to St. Vincent’s.

My name is Karen Lohr and I’ve been matched with Sasha since October 2013. When I applied for a service dog in February 2013 I didn’t know quite how much my life would change. It had been just over a year since my neck injury that left me an incomplete quadriplegic; and six years since a neuromuscular disease had caused initial lower leg paralysis. In the year since my neck injury I had missed almost 8 months of work, had neck fusion surgery, lived in a nursing home for 2 ½ months, had countless hours of doctor’s appointments and physical therapy; yet I was determined to go back to my fulltime job at UConn and continue living by myself. After all, I had moved to Connecticut from Arizona for my job & sled hockey, and my family lived hundreds of miles away.

I was diagnosed with ALS this past June of 2013. It has been a challenging journey for me and my loving family dealing with this every moment of every day. ALS is a degenerative Motor Neuron Disease. At this point, I have begun to walk with a walker. I keep active, go to work every day, and am driving. As the disease progresses, these activities will become more challenging. Not long after hearing about the work done at NEADS and going through an interview, they provided a beautiful yellow lab named Swanson in March of 2014. She has been such a blessing. Aside from performing tasks that help get me through the day (fetching, retrieving, opening doors, etc), she has brought a sense of joy and peace to our family which was absent for a while. I am now taking care of Swanson so she can take care of me.

Injured in a car accident in 1982, Cyndi is an incomplete parapalegic and needs to use a cane to help her get around. She attends Charter Oak State College as a commuting student and a dog would be a great friend and assistant.