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 Robert Bilotta I am 30 years old and live in Worcester, MA. I was diagnosed with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy (MD) when I was a year old. In 2002, thanks to Boston Children’s-the best hospital in the world and the immeasurable gift from a donor-I received a heart transplant to correct cardiomyopathy caused by MD. Since my surgery I’ve strived to live a “normal” life but more importantly- my life; being an active member in my community, enjoying family and friends, and living independently. I graduated from Worcester State University in 2010 and now work in the Independent Living field as counselor and life skills trainer for young adults with disabilities.

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.

Artist and photographer, independent and caring, these are the words I want to define me, not cancer and rheumatoid arthritis patient. My name is Tracy Cornell and since 2004 when diagnosed with my first battle with Ovarian cancer, to 2006 when the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) diagnosis was made, my life changed dramatically.

Hi, my name is Lucy Beth Fraser. I am 16 years old from Sharon, Massachusetts. At age 2, I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (psoriatic) and I have since also been diagnosed with crohn’s disease, osteopenia, raynaud’s syndrome, asthma, and heterotopic ossification in my jaw.  Despite excellent medical care, I have never achieved remission of my arthritis and it has affected over 30 joints throughout my body.  When the medications are working, I am able to participate on a competitive dance team, and be a part of my high school theatre company. Unfortunately, my disease is stubborn and refuses to leave me be so about 2-3 months of every year since I have been diagnosed, I am bound to a wheelchair or need to use assistive devices such as crutches to navigate my daily life. 

My name is JT Graceffa. Because I was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP) I have limited ability to do certain things. Since 2008, I have had my wonderful service dog Melisa by my side, helping me with opening doors, picking up dropped items, carrying small items and turning lights off and on. Melisa has been a hard-working service dog and an important member of my family. She has allowed me to be more independent without asking for more help from family and friends.  She is ten and a half years old and soon will be enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

Hey! My name is Tyler and I have Spina Bifida, which has had me wheelchair bound my entire life. Don’t think for a second I’ve let that slow me down, though. I’m an avid sled hockey player, and use my personal experience and disability to help children in similar situations learn to embrace who they are and the fun that team physical activity can give! I do my best to never let my physical disability slow me down, though some things are just too physically difficult to perform on my own. It was for this reason that I applied for a NEADS service dog, and I was thrilled to have been accepted in June 2017.

I am fundraising for NEADS, This is my story. A machinist by trade, cabinetmaker by hobby, I served over 15 years as a high school and college level trades instructor, teaching shop skills, until I was no longer able, because of Multiple Sclerosis. Following a necessary retirement from public education, I continued to remotely provide part time manufacture engineering services for an additional 8 years. Then, my MS cognitive deficiencies required me to accept a full retirement mode of life. 8 years ago I was approved for a service dog but opted for a NEADS "flunky" dog instead. The dog's name was Yukon Joe. Even though he did not successfully complete his NEADS training, he still had many commands which he responded to. The most important of these being his command to grab a "Phone", should I fall, and his willingness to "Wait", while I waddled up a flight of stairs (so I can navigate the stairs alone). Joe could "Fetch" dropped items, use his "Paws" to open disability pads at entrance doors, bring his "Leash" and assist to "Dress" into the leader. Joe intuitively "knew" when I was experiencing a "messy" day and always maintained close proximity on those days. My boy, Yukon Joe, died October 27th this past fall.

My name is Ardis Mayo. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. As a lifelong resident of Maine I have always had a dog by my side. In recent years this has not been possible because I have MS and even a small dog is enough to flatten me if tempted by a passing butterfly. There are other challenges that come with this neurological nemesis like maintaining my balance when I drop things (an all too frequent habit) and managing doors that don’t close automatically behind me. One of the ways I maintain my endurance (as well as my mental health) is to take long walks in the early morning in our wooded community. There are some risks to being out so early when few people are around. A service dog can be trained to bark if I need assistance and, conveniently, will also carry a water bottle for me.

Hi, my name is Jennifer Moro and I am 43 years old.  I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, degenerative disc disease Spondylothesis and severe scoliosis. In 2011, I needed to have spinal fusion surgery. I went back to work afterwards but the pain was so bad I could no longer sit at my desk all day.  I was forced to retire in 2012 from a job I absolutely loved. Not many people can say that but I could. I worked for the Board of Education as a Special Education Data Analyst. 

My life has changed so much since Earle has partnered with me. Always an active person, I thought I was very connected to the world. I had no idea that my world would get so large and that Earle would be the catalyst to that.

My name is Katelynne Steinke, and I am a 29 year old Paralympic hopeful, though truth be told I'm very close to the big 30. In November of 2008, I was in a car accident that severely injured my left leg. After two years of trying to salvage the limb, doctors made the decision to amputate above the knee. I immediately got involved with adaptive sports and worked for Spaulding Rehab in their adaptive sports programming. In June of 2012, I started experiencing complications in that residual limb and in December of that year, doctors decided to do a back surgery to help with the symptoms. Unfortunately, I received terrible, neglectful care that resulted in a MRSA infection in my spine, leaving me a T8 complete paraplegic.

Hi my name is Josh Werner, I’m a 22 year old college student who has had my fair share of frustrations and challenges in life. I have a rare bone condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, or OI for short. It is a genetic disorder which leads to bones that break easily, often from little or no apparent cause. I have broken over 100 bones (I stopped counting once I got to 100) and have probably had at least 50 surgeries. The only bones that I haven't broken are my spine, fingers and toes. I have basically every bone in my body rodded or had plates put in. I use a power wheelchair to get around.