Lucas Appleton is nine years old, and he has Fredreich’s Ataxia. He needs a service dog, but, his family couldn’t afford one. So, they held a fundraiser, which was extremely successful. There was enough money for Lucas to get his service dog, and also enough left over to start a trust fund for Lucas.
Imagine what it would be like to be a nine year old boy who cannot go run and play with his friends. For Lucas Appleton, this is a reality. He has Fredreich’s Ataxia, which is a rare, progressive, neurogenetic condition. Worldwide, the condition is found in approximately 1 out of every 40,000 people.
Fredreich’s Ataxia, or FA, is something that a person is born with. Symptoms are not always present right away. FA tends to present itself while a person is in childhood, but, the condition can also wait until a person is an adult to have the symptoms appear.
Typically, one of the first symptoms is a general unsteadiness while walking. Over time, the condition will affect a person’s speech, handwriting, and fine motor movements. People who have FA become unable to stand up without losing their balance, and they will require assistive devices in order to remain mobile. Other symptoms can include heart problems, hearing loss, scoliosis, optic atrophy, insulin sensitivity, urinary urgency, and a higher chance of developing diabetes. FA does not affect cognitive ability.
Lucas Appleton uses a walker and sometimes requires a wheelchair. His family wanted to get him a service dog, but could not afford to do so. A service dog can help children who have a variety of special needs. The cost for a service dog can be $12,000 to $15,000. Lucas needs a service dog to help stabilize him as he moves and when he is trying to pick something up. The service dog can also help comfort Lucas when he gets bad headaches.
The family held a fundraiser that turned out to be very successful. There was enough money raised to enable Lucas to get his service dog. Extra money will go towards setting up a trust fund for Lucas. Some money may go towards the purchase of a van that can transport Lucas, his service dog, and his wheelchair.
Lucas is from a small community in California. It is wonderful when people can come together to help out kids like Lucas. There isn’t a cure for Fredreich’s Ataxia, and it isn’t the type of condition that a person can “grow out of” as they reach adulthood.
Image by Calsidyrose on Flickr