Sponsor a Client

My name is Jackee Banfill and I am 19 years old. The summer going into my freshmen year of high school I survived a catastrophic accident at fourteen years old on July 14, 2010. I was hit and dragged by a train that has resulted in many injuries and one of them being that my right leg was severed above the knee. I spent many months recovering in the hospital and rehab. Throughout the past four and a half years I have tried using a prosthesis, but it hasn’t worked out yet due to still needing more surgery. I have had 19 surgeries so far and injuries, revisions, and chronic pain have me facing more in the near future.

My name is Carolyn Barrett and I’m a 22-year-old senior at Boston College. I have recently begun the process to obtain my second service dog with NEADS. When I was 10 years old, I received my first service dog from NEADS. I was matched with Perkins (pictured with me) a black lab who changed my life in unimaginable ways.

My name is Joanne Beaudry, a Speech/Language Pathologist at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, MA. I am working with classrooms of students on the Autism Spectrum; most have been diagnosed with Asperger's or PDD-NOS . Many of the students have co-morbid diagnosis' of severe anxiety, severe depression, ADHD, and communication disorders. With these secondary diagnosis, their behaviors make it extremely difficult to express their feelings as well as communicate and socialize with peers, and adults in their environment.

Hi, my name is Robert. I’m 12 years old and was diagnosed with a form of autism called PDD/NOS when I was almost 3 years old. Even though I have autism, I like to do lots of things that other kids do. I am a catcher for my baseball team, I play basketball in the winter, I love to geocache and I am a HUGE Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Patriots fan. However, having this kind of autism comes with challenges including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and auditory processing disorder. I also struggle with executive functioning and transitioning from one thing to the next throughout the day can be very challenging for me.

I am a 36 year old single mother to 5 wonderful children, who choose me to be there mom as much as I choose them. For over 10 years I was a foster/adoptive parent to over 60 foster children, and it was one of the best experiences in my life. I have always been a very active person, whether that is out in nature, helping out at my church, working with my children, or baking anything and everything! My daughter and I were in a car accident in 2013. Immediately my life changed. The accident resulted in extensive injuries, cognitive issues, and relying on a wheelchair. I have had to adapt and find new ways to do a lot of things, even the smallest things. Yet I am a fighter and will not give up. I believe that working with NEADS, and being matched with a service dog will allow me even more to get back some of the independence that I lost.

My name is Elizabeth Conlon. I am part of a dedicated private nonprofit organization, NFI (North American Family Institute). As a Registered Nurse, I work in NFI’s intensive residential program located at the Worcester Recovery Center Hospital, the Worcester Adolescent Recovery Center. Our mission is to provide a therapeutic milieu for children ages 13 to 19. Our work is based on a philosophy known as the normative approach, which emphasizes the ability of all people to achieve positive change when they are members of a community unified by its mission and purpose. The holistic and innovative services of NFI are tailored to individual client needs and help adolescents identify and build upon their strengths, emphasizing family work and community reintegration. The adolescents are greatly supported in this work by the relationships they form with staff, including service animals.

Hi, this is David and he is 8 years old. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 21 months old. David is a loving, sweet, polite boy who truly enjoys life. He is always happy and laughing. He enjoys playing on his iPad, playing with his toys and being up in New Hampshire at his camper. Although David is such a happy, fun loving boy he has a lot of anxieties and trouble regulating his emotions at times. David is fearful of the dark, nightmares, being alone and sleeping. He also struggles with going to the doctors and/or places with a lot of people, especially if there is a high demand of expectations put on him.

Hi, my name is Vera Cunningham. I was diagnosed with MS in 1992. NEADS is a wonderful organization that has accepted me for the second time. I graduated in March 2003 with my partner Lily. I have had an empty place in my heart since Lily passed away on Mother's Day 2015. She is truly missed.

My name is Tammie. I was first diagnosed with MS shortly after the birth of my twin daughters in 1997. I have dealt with the physical and emotional challenges the best I can. My husband and I have three wonderful children who have helped me live as normally and actively as I can. Our children are now young adults- our son is a United States Marine and our daughters are both full time college students (all three are out of state.) My condition has advanced to secondary progressive MS. Certain everyday tasks have become more and more challenging to me. I have always been an active person and want to continue that way. Simple tasks that we all take for granted have been increasingly difficult, and the help of a service dog will keep me active and help me maintain a positive outlook on life.

Michelle was born profoundly deaf and has identified herself as being culturally Deaf. She attended Gallaudet University and received her doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology.  When not working, Michelle is active and enjoys the outdoors of New England. She can often be found hiking, running and camping during her down time.

Thekla was thrilled to be matched with her service dog Keely this past June, 2016! A better match could not have been made! Ever since, Thekla and Keely have been inseparable. The difference Keely makes in Thekla’s life is amazing and their bond is so strong and so sweet. Here is what Thekla recently said about having Keely in her life: When I first met Keely and they showed me to her she licked me super crazy. She cuddles with me and any time I ask her to “visit” with me she puts her head on my lap. Keely is so cool because when we are out other kids or grownups ask to pet her and she helps me start conversations. She helps me feel more comfortable talking to people I don’t know. She changed my life completely! I love her so much. She is my best friend and she and I go everywhere together. Keely is so special to me and I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

I am a 37 year old late deafened adult. In 2006 I started having trouble with my hearing in both ears and in December of that year I got my first pair of hearing aids. Over the next 9 months my hearing loss became very progressive and I started having vertigo and balance issues as well. Nothing in life could have prepared me for what I was going through or how it was going to impact my life as I knew it. I didn’t know how to live in the world when I could hardly make out what people were saying and it lead to a lot of isolation and anxiety. It has been a hard and emotional journey figuring out how to start my life over as a late deafened adult because it changed absolutely every aspect of my life. Fast forward 9 years to 2015 and I am proud to say that despite my challenges, I have come a long way.

Hi my name is Lillian Fraser-Gray and I am 12 years old. I have been in intensive therapy since 18 months old. I have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, moderate retardation, Major Anxiety Disorder, ADHD, Mood Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Mixed Receptive and Expressive Language Disorder, Sensory Integration Disorder, and cognitively stuck at about mid-kindergarten level. I have a very hard time dealing with all things going on around me. I am very happy to be in this process for a service dog to help me remain calm so that I may go out into the world and not be afraid or able to handle it. I am truly happy and eager to be able for this opportunity and grateful for NEADS. Thank you very much, Lily

Martha is a 16-year-old girl diagnosed with autism who struggles daily to communicate her wants and needs to others. She attends school at Nashoba Learning Group where she has made great strides. We feel a NEADS dog will help Martha develop her social skills as it accompanies her on outings in the community. The dog will also be a companion for Martha, who, because of her disability, does not have the peer relationships of a typical teenager. Having a dog will also give Martha a feeling of responsibility as she will be feeding and walking him/her.

Since I first heard of the NEADS program I knew it was an organization that I wanted to become more involved with. Working in a correctional setting, I get to watch the dogs trained by inmates every day. I see how fulfilling the program is for them, and how it helps inmates cope with anxiety/depression as the dogs are therapeutic to them on a daily basis. Our Mental Health Department decided that we wanted to get more involved, and get a therapy dog for our department to help with mental health treatment. Many of our clients have difficulty opening up and engaging in therapy, having a therapy dog present helps them to feel more comfortable and more trusting.

Hello! My name is Chanel, I am sixteen years old. I live in Boston Massachusetts with my family. I was born with a disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. This causes my bones to be vulnerable to fractures with as little as a sneeze. My bones are so brittle that I cannot walk on them so, I have been using a power wheelchair as my main source of mobility since the age of three. I am in the middle of my Sophomore year of High School and I am striving to be more independent as the college years approach. I am looking for help in raising funds for a service dog to further increase this independence.

Hi, my name is Wytske and I am 54 years old. I have recently had to stop working because of progressive hearing loss. My cochlear implant has not provided sufficient support and my other ear progressed to profound deafness. I cannot locate sound and I no longer hear sufficiently for moving through traffic. I have burned food and kettles–because I cannot hear their whistle. I am unable to hear fire alarms, and often don’t have anyone in the house that can assist me. While traveling, I have missed train and plane connections because of announcements that I could not understand. I even ended up in a wrong city when attempting to visit my sister! Hearing loss is a non-visible disability, and people don’t realize I cannot hear, or forget about it just after I tell them. I no longer participate in social activities because of my inability to understand conversation. I hope that my recent approval into the NEADS program will result in increasing my ability to function on a daily basis and re-open up the world around me.

I am excited to be joining the NEADS family and developing a partnership with Bella. Bella will serve as both a ministry dog and a service dog assisting me personally. As a minister and an animal-lover, I cannot think of a more ideal way to “do” ministry. Bella and I will serve our congregation, community, and region in many ways: through congregational and interfaith worship and events; pastoral care visits to nursing homes and hospitals; and crisis response to recovery and reunification centers in Petersham and the wider region. We will respond to requests by local clergy of any faith as well as regional fire, police, and other emergency responders.

Hi! I’m Olivia and I am so excited to have Rigney - my social dog! I have high-functioning autism with a sensory processing disorder and generalized anxiety disorder – this cause me to be a worry wart. Every day I worry about everything. Even though I love to have fun and play with my friends and learn at school, I worry about people being naughty and unkind words, and unknown things. Sometimes I hide when I worry.

Hello. My name is Billy and I am 11 years old. I have severe anxiety, Asperger's Syndrome (high functioning autism), and ADHD. I find it very difficult to be in social situations, or even just leave the house because of the Asperger's and anxiety. This past January my Mom removed me from public school because it was too over stimulating and stressful for me. My attendance was atrocious and my grades slipped dramatically. I am now homeschooled and it is a much better situation for me. My grades have improved and I made High Honor Roll while homeschooling.

I was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease, a neuromuscular illness that occurs when the mitochondria cannot generate enough energy for the body’s demands. It is progressive and incurable, and can lead to a shortened life expectancy. It often includes muscle pain and weakness, neuropathy, extreme fatigue, and complications related to organ failure. To some extent every day, I experience dizziness, nausea, pain, and exhaustion. I am frequently unable to do things for myself. As this devastating disorder has caused increasing limitations, I realized the need for the independence, mobility, and freedom that can come through canine assistance.

My name is Debbie Liebl. I became deaf from spinal Meningitis when I was four years old from a birthday party of 20. All 20 party kids contacted Meningitis. Only 5 of us survived and I was one of the survivors.

I began my partnership with Daisy, a young Golden Retriever "Service Dog for Ministry" in October. She has become a favorite in the various ministry settings in which I am involved. In churches, she opens up conversations with people who might be reluctant otherwise. She is particularly good with kids, even the most hesitant.

Hello, my name is Sandy. In 2013 I was diagnosed with Relapsing/Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. My symptoms started several years ago thought to be Fibromyalgia as the symptoms are very similar. My episodes can last a few hours to several days. At times I am hospitalized or getting infusions to help cope with the weakness in arms and legs, extreme fatigue, inability to following a conversation or communicate thought among other issues. Though I have come to terms in my MS, I know I need to take steps to insure my independence in the future. A Service Dog would be a blessing for my future.

My name is Kathy Marcello. I am a Behavior Specialist at Peaslee Elementary School in Northborough, MA. In the past 18 years, I have worked with many students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Anxiety, ADHD and Tourette Syndrome. My passion is supporting all children as they learn, grow, and thrive in their school environment. I was recently matched with a NEADS dog named Ruby. My hope is to improve all students’ ability to communicate with peers and adults with the help of Ruby.

Hi I'm Matte and I'm 9 years old. I'm looking for a way to feel safe and secure. I have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ie Asperger's, ADHD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I am very fearful of many things such as darkness, loud noises, crowded places, even the outdoors. I have difficulty with self-regulation and control. At school I was teased and didn't enjoy myself. I can often feel anxious and overwhelmed. I have trouble falling asleep and often can't settle my mind. Today I went to NEADS and met a service dog, it was amazing! I really need a service dog to be by my side. I need a friend that will love me all the time just the way I am. I think having a dog will make me feel safe and strong (because I will play with him outside) Please help me with my fund raising so that I can grow, learn, and laugh with my new best friend. Thank you

My mother, Nancy, has alway been hard of hearing (doctors attributed it to a severe case of scarlet fever as a child). As teenagers, my siblings and I were often impatient with this loss and instead of repeating ourselves when she asked us to, we would say “Ma, get some hearing aids!”. Eventually, she took our advice and purchased hearing aids (something that her health insurance does not cover), and found these to be extremely helpful. In the last five years, however, her hearing has declined, to a point where even the hearing aids are not helping to ease her hearing deficit.

My hearing has decreased over the last several years to the point that I find it necessary to ask for help from the NEADS program. Hearing loss is genetic in my family but mine has also been affected by chemotherapy.

My name is Josh, I’m 12 years old and I live in Sudbury, MA. I was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with Asperger’s a few months ago. I have struggled with different things such as anxiety/depression, regulating my emotions, insomnia and forming and keeping friendships since I was young. I also have nut allergies and get really upset when I have to go to the doctor or dentist. It’s hard for me to work in groups and on teams and I miss opportunities to do things with other kids. It’s been especially hard for me this past year and I’ve missed a significant number of school days. I’ve felt trapped at school in 7th grade and can’t concentrate very well.

My name is Brian Roberts. I have a rare medical disease which impacts such things as my hormones, body temperature, weight, memory, and emotions. I have had a very challenging life. I have almost died a few times and I never thought I would make it to the age of 40 but I am happy to say that I am now 47!

My name is Ellyn Salkin and I have been matched with Murray, a Service Dog for Therapy. As an advocate, counselor, and coach for people with autism spectrum disorders, other needs and different abilities, I'm thankful to have Murray by my side to provide comfort and encouragement. There are so many ways that Murray can assist in a therapeutic session or activity.

My name is Eric Shairs and I’m working with NEADS to be paired with a Service Dog. Due to a diving accident August 5th, 2005 my condition is medically classified C6 incomplete spinal cord injury, socially titled quadriplegic. Recovery has/will continue to be a long road physically and mentally. Every day since my catastrophic injury I have and continue to rely on my manual wheelchair for daily mobility. My paralysis also affects my upper-body abilities due to no voluntary control of my trunk muscles (abdominals, obliques, mid-lower back) and hands/fingers. This compromises my ability to lean to the side, reach the ground or grab items. Picking up dropped items, reaching door handles, retrieving objects on the counter, operating light switches and pushing automatic door buttons are some of the daily activities a service dog will be able to help with.

Hi, my name is Chris Slavin. Thank you for visiting my fundraising page. I am looking forward to adding a NEADS Service Dog into my life. When I went to my NEADS interview and assessment at the campus in Sterling, MA, Kathy told me I was a “Big World” person who needed a “Big World” dog. I had never heard that phrase used before, but when explained to me, I understood what Kathy meant. I think you will too, when you read more about my “Big World”, below. I have always been active and an athlete. In 2007 I was competing in USASA Nationals in Lake Tahoe as a competitive snowboarder. It was a gorgeous April day and it was my first really big competition at the National Level. I was so excited to be competing and representing the U.S. against competitors from around the globe. Unfortunately, I had a devastating crash while going over a jump in Slopestyle which resulted in 10 fractured vertebrae and a spinal cord injury. The doctors came into my room in ICU three days later to tell me that they were sorry about my injury. I told them it was okay, and that I would be skiing again by next season. And so began my journey into the world of adaptive sport.

Hello, my name is Tracey Stoll. I am a licensed Special Educator and Certified Autism Specialist. I am also the proud mother of 3 sons, two who are challenged with ASD and Anxiety. As the Founder/Executive Director of Learning Solutions, LLC (“LS” in Norwood, MA), I am committed to providing a safe, practice place for students experiencing social-emotional stress and confusion among their peers. Our Social Learning Center supports the growth of over 70 student clients a week; and collaborates with school districts to create inclusive programming that empowers at risk learners.

I am Samantha and I have a progressive connective tissue disorder (Stickler Syndrome) that affects my hearing, my vision and my joints. I have moderate/severe hearing loss in both ears. I’ve worn hearing aids since I was seven months old. I am very nearsighted and have worn glasses since I was 13 months old. I have also had extensive joint pain since I was two years old. Looking at me you would never know anything is wrong because I look “normal”. My hearing dog, Debbie, has completely changed this for me! She has truly been the biggest blessing to ever come into my life. I do not need to constantly worry about if I do not hear something going on around me, as Debbie will now jump in and help me. She is also a very visual cue to others that I am hard of hearing and my communication needs are different and to always approach me from the front so I can see and hear what they are saying.

In the summer of 2015, Ben was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism; many people are more familiar with the term Asperger’s Syndrome. We always knew our Benjamin Bunny was quirky: when he was learning to walk, he'd never let you see him trying. As soon as you'd turn your head to see what he was up to, he'd sit down. Then one day around 15 months old, he just walked across the living room like he'd been doing it for years.

Overnight I suffered a profound, severe hearing loss at the age of eighteen. Though it was going to take more than that, I thought, to derail my college plans and dreams of majoring in French and Theatre - off I went. One semester later I found myself closer to home, and closer to Boston for medical treatments. I tried every hearing device, medication, and had every test possible - nothing aided me. No verdict was reached on how or why I lost my hearing. I did not show signs of loss or illness, but it was just left that I suffered a virus of some sort. In the beginning, doctors thought it was a one time loss, and not progressive. Recently, it was determined that I had lost significantly more and likely will continue to progress at the same rate. I likely will be deaf in my lifetime.

My name is Maddy, I’m 15 years old and I live in Raynham, MA. I was diagnosed with ASD (Asperger’s) when I was twelve years old. I have struggled with different things such as anxiety/depression, regulating my emotions, forming friendships and eating since I was little. I also have a hard time when I am not in my own environment and going to school has always been hard for me. I feel best when I am at home. I really feel like having a social dog will help me a lot with all of these things.