By Sonya Campbell
Harker Heights Herald
NOLANVILLE - American Legion Riders Post 582 in Copperas Cove is helping raise money to purchase a service dog for a 12-year-old Nolanville boy who was diagnosed with autism four years ago.
The boy's parents, Dea and Jason Shatterly, believe the dog, which will be specially trained to meet the needs of their son, Matthew, could help ease the boy's night terrors and meltdowns - symptoms common among children with autism. The dog also would be trained to keep the child from wandering or running off, which is another common trait.
The couple is working with 4 Paws for Ability, a nonprofit agency based in Ohio that's overseeing the dog's training. The agency has established an account for the Shatterly family.
So far, the couple has raised nearly half of the $11,000 needed to get the dog.
One of the requirements is for the family to raise donations to cover the training. Doing so helps ensure the recipients have a vested interest in the dog and will be more likely to care for it properly, Dea Shatterly said.
Her insurance doesn't cover any of the cost.
The family's story was published in the Killeen Daily Herald in January and read by J. R. "Joker" Gorecki, a member of the American Legion post in Copperas Cove.
He brought the matter before the group, which then voted to support the family by providing them with proceeds from the upcoming Spring Fun Run.
Asked why he decided to get involved in the family's plight, Gorecki said, "I believe it is really wrong that an insurance company would deny the boy a service dog when he needs it. The parents are raising money and are only half way there. Why not help the boy out."
He hopes to raise $1,200 to $1,500 to assist the family.
The Spring Fun Run is set for April 30, and will start and end at the American Legion post, 910 Industrial Ave. in Copperas Cove.
Poker run hands are $5 each plus $1 per extra card. Prizes will be awarded for the highest and lowest hands.
The first bike out will depart at 10 a.m. and the last bike in will be at 4 p.m.
An "all-you-can eat" breakfast will be served from 8 to 10 a.m. The cost is a $6 donation.
Dinner plates also will be available for a donation.
Bike games and a silent auction also are planned. Door prizes will be awarded.
For more information about the bike run, call Daniel Brown at (254) 630-4519.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help the Shatterly family is welcome to do so by mailing donations to 4 Paws for Ability, 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, OH, 45385. Be sure to designate that it goes to Matthew Shatterly's account.
For more information about the agency, go to www.4pawsforability.org.
Contact Sonya Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.