A fundraiser held in hopes of providing a companion dog to an ailing 9-year-old in Grover Beach was a roaring success, and organizers anticipate having an animal chosen within the next week or two.
Mongo’s Saloon, on Grand Avenue, hosted the June 24 event, at which participants gave more than $15,000 toward a companion for Lucas Appleton.
Lucas has Friedreich’s ataxia, a disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. It can affect speech or the ability to walk, and can lead to heart disease and diabetes. It is expected to get worse. Lucas has gone from fully functioning to using a walker and sometimes a wheelchair.
He tires out quickly, says his mother, and it sometimes takes him a while to finish what he’s trying to say.
But that didn’t stop him from thanking the many people who came to offer support at Mongo’s. He spoke haltingly, but from the heart, said Linda McClure of American Property Services, who organized the event.
McClure said the community response to Lucas’ plea for help has been “spectacular.”
She said that at the fundraiser, they received contributions ranging from a little girl who gave 15 cents to a woman who wrote a check for $5,000.
Lucas’ brother, William, sang twice and collected more than $150 in tips.
“I was in tears throughout most of the day,” McClure said. “These people just came out of the woodwork.”
Since the event, McClure has spent time on the Internet and elsewhere trying to find the right companion for Lucas.
“I’m hoping (for) a golden retriever,” he said earlier.
The dogs run from $12,000 to $15,000. Then there will be training.
And eventually Lucas’ family hopes to get a specially equipped van that can transport the boy, his dog, his wheelchair and walker.
“The dog will provide him with a constant companion,” said his mother, Casandra. The dog will be “his best friend and (stabilize) him when he picks something up and give him so much more quality of life,” she added.
Lucas said that a service dog can comfort him when he gets bad headaches and needs to rest.