Help us travel to get service dog

We have raised the money we need to get Marisa's service dog. (I can't tell how excited we are!)We have have been given the dates of December 2-13, 2013 to attend training classes and now need to raise $2500 for for travel expenses, food and hotel for nearly 2 weeks to go get her dog. (We have to stay for almost 2 weeks to get certified to be a handler for the service dog.)Please help us reach this goal. Marisa desperately needs this! ***Any money that is donated for this cause goes to the family for travel expenses, NOT to 4 Paws for ability

Below is the story of why our daughter needs a autism service dog:

Marisa Smith is a 15 year old autistic child with a wonderful, imaginative personality and once you get to know her, she makes a lasting impression. She is very artistic and you will find her often drawing in her sketchbook, turning that wonderful imagination into pictures on a page. She especially loves drawing pictures of wolves. This talent is an icebreaker for the few social relationships that she has.
She is very passionate and knowledgeable about animals. She mimics their sounds and they respond immediately, you would almost think they were talking to each other. During a trip to one of the area wildlife centers, she became interested in Lemurs. She has helped raise money for the Duke Lemur Center. She is quite a remarkable young lady.
Marisa has endured 3 brain surgeries to correct a congenital brain deformity and has been diagnosed with Autism and has extreme sensory issues. She does not function independently.
Every day is a struggle for her. She has many challenges in school and other social settings. Everyday changes and transitions tend to be very traumatic experiences that greatly increase her already inflated anxiety levels. She cannot interpret body language and facial expression as well as the rest of us and often misunderstands people's intentions. In overwhelming situations she feels like she has to get away (she has wandered off of school grounds unexpectedly and gone missing on more than one occasion) so she must be monitored constantly. She experiences night terrors that leave her screaming and thrashing in her bed.
A autism service dog would help calm her during the anxious, stressful and overwhelming times. They would be there to wake her and take her out of those traumatic dreams that leave her fearful. It would be a companion to a child with very few people she can call friends and maybe help open up the doorway to new relationships with her peers. A service dog would be there to calm, distract and redirect Marisa when she feels like she needs to get away from those overwhelmingly stressful situations. Marisa receiving a service dog will be a true blessing to our family! It will allow her to gain more independence and provide a safety net for her, as well as peace of mind for us, her parents.
We have agreed to become volunteers for 4 Paws for Ability, to help raise $13,000 to support their mission of being able to place service dogs to families who need them. 4 Paws for Ability, Inc. is a non-profit organization that places service dogs with children who have disabilities. They believe that service dogs should be made available to any child with a disability who wishes to have the love, companionship, and independence that are the result of service dog placement. With your help, we can reach our goal, and 4 Paws can begin the 11-month process of training a dog for Marisa. Thank you so much!


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Laurie Fullerton Smith 
Cary, NC

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