With the help of Boyne Island Lions Club, one family’s dreams of a service dog for their 8-year-old daughter will soon come true.
When Gladstone mother-of-two Kevina Anderson applied for a Community 100 grant to help raise the $27,000 she needs for a service dog for her daughter Chilli, the Boyne Island Lions Club in Queensland didn’t hesitate.
Eight-year-old Chilli was born with Kleefstra Syndrome, a very rare disorder that means she has a piece missing in her ninth chromosome and does not have the main learning gene. Chilli cannot speak, needs constant care and supervision, and finds it difficult to walk. “She is a beautiful, happy and healthy girl, but with her life-long disorder, finds it hard to relate and live in a typical life,” wrote 43-year-old Kevina in her submission.
Service dogs undergo up to two years of rigorous, professional training before going home to a new family. Kevina, her partner Shane Morgan, Chilli, and her three-year-old brother Axel had all hoped a Labrador called Herbie, trained by the team at the government-approved K9 Tales on the Sunshine Coast, would be Chilli’s companion, but he was turned down by the trainers at age one.
They now have another dog, a yellowy white Labrador, Pip, in mind. “The trainer knows Chilli now and knows exactly what we are after,” says Kevina. “Pip is 19 weeks old and she is going really good, she really feels that she’s the one for Chilli and we’re going to go down regularly to see her.”
Herbie isn’t the only set-back the family has experienced in recent times. In a dramatic turn of events, Kevina had just accepted her $1000 grant at a special Boyne Island Lions Club meeting when she suffered a brain aneurysm and stroke, and collapsed. Kevina was rushed to hospital in Gladstone then transported to Brisbane where she spent the next three months in recovery.
“I was in rehabilitation for 13 weeks and three days,” she says. “The stroke has affected my left side but I’m going good. I’m back at home with the kids and I’m still fundraising for Chilli – we’ve already reached over $20,000. I’m a very lucky person, very blessed that I can still talk and walk. Apparently I’ve got a second life – and life’s good!”
Ian Anderson, president of the Boyne Island Lions Club, has stayed in touch with the family and the Club also donated an additional $1000, raised selling hams during the Christmas period. “We shared the money we raised between Kevina and another community group here for stroke awareness,” says the 67year-old, who has been Club president for the last two years.
“Our Club has been going since 1981, we’ve got 34 members and we’re quite active in the community, whether it be sausage sizzles at Bunnings or the bar at the big fishing competition here, the ‘Boyne Tannum Hook Up’,” says Ian. “In the last two years we’ve raised and donated more than $120,000. We had 10 applicants for the Community 100 project in our small area and we decided that all were so worthy, we ended up donating a further $250 to each of those. Kevina was overwhelmed by it all and the additional funding we gave her, she was really grateful.”
To make a donation towards Chilli’s service dog, visit gofundme.com/scty8bys.
To contact the Boyne Island Lions Club visit boyneisland.qld.lions.org.au
Story courtesy of Country Style Magazine