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.

Just recently I made the journey to NEADS in Massachusetts, a two and a half hour drive with my parents, to go for an interview for a service dog. I came into this knowing that I was ready to have a service dog but was unsure about the outcome of this trip. Was I going to get accepted? Were there going to be any barriers set in front of me? I felt as if I were going into a world of the unknown. Fast forward: I had the interview, shared my feelings and thoughts about how the dog would change my life for the better and was accepted to get a dog!

I am a 35 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.

Hello, my name is Victoria Davis. I am a freshman at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. I have been fighting with a connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome for six years now. This genetic disease makes it so that my joints dislocate on their own accord due to a collagen fiber mutation, it is extremely painful and there is no cure.

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.

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.

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.

Hi, My name is Connor Lizotte. I am 14 years old and I am going into my freshman year at Cumberland High School in Cumberland, RI. I was born prematurely at 24 weeks old and suffered a hemorrhage on the left side of my brain which has caused motor delays and seizure disorder. I was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegia and Dystonia. I have had many surgeries to try to connect my muscle tone and I have also gone through two hip dysplasia surgeries.

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.

I received the best Christmas present on December 23, 2014 when I was accepted into the NEADS program to receive a service dog. My name is Mary Marco and my previous service dog passed away this past August. I live alone and I fall a lot. It has been very difficult for me since Mandy is no longer there to help me get up.

Hello, my name is Marie Neault. I suffer nerve damage and chronic pain associated with numerous surgeries to treat endometriosis. So many damaging aspects of my surgeries, including scar tissue, have damaged most of my internal organs and complications continue.

Hello, my name is Connie St. Onge Post. About 12 years ago I was diagnosed with atypical disc disease, meaning the discs in my spine are aging and breaking down at a faster than normal rate causing continuous pain. Ten years ago the pain became so overwhelming that I was forced to retire from my job of 28 years. The physical and mental toll has been devastating.

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!

I am a 25-year-old recent graduate of UMass Boston, where I studied psychology and women's & gender studies. I was diagnosed with type II spinal muscular atrophy around three years old. It is a genetic disease resulting in the death of motor neurons, causing worsening system-wide muscle weakness. As a small child, I could walk slowly and for short distances. I had a spinal fusion to correct scoliosis at age eleven, which caused me to lose this ability and my weakness began to manifest much more rapidly. I require the use of an electric wheelchair both at home and out in the world. Although I am unable to transfer in and out of my wheelchair on my own, once in it, I go about my day as independently as possible. I've learned to adapt to my surroundings, and have become quite crafty in figuring out alternative ways to do things. Still, it is not an impeccable plan. Things can and do go wrong.

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.

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.

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.

Hi, I'm Sandy, pictured here with my second NEADS dog, Rally. I was diagnosed with Juvenile RA when I was 13. Over the years, the disease has left me with a severe mobility impairment.

For years I took in and helped difficult dogs, and now I’m the one that needs the help of a dog. For more than thirty years I was a psychotherapist often taking on the most difficult cases; and I did the same with dogs, adopting the most challenging and least likely to be rescued from the area shelters. Until 1994, when I was injured in a hiking accident with my dog, I was physically active, including tending my organic garden which fed me and another family. After the accident, I lost the stabilizing ligament in my left knee which began the long decline. Unfortunately, due to another dog clipping me in a neighbor’s yard, the same thing happened to my right knee.

My name is Brent Woodard, and I am 21 years old. Since I was born, I have been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, more specifically, Spastic Quadriplegia. In addition, I am prone to seizures and strokes; I'm considered to be high risk. With all of these associated health concerns, I applied for a service dog. Fortunately, my wish was granted, and I have been approved for a service dog. This dog will become my companion and my safety net, especially with me wanting to be more independent.