HATTIE Leads The Way For Aaron!

In January of 2010, we met Aaron for the very first time in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He was five and a half months old, and very weak. Aaron weighed only eight pounds, but his smile lit up the room. But the smile couldn't hide how sick he was, and after we got back to Wilmington we embarked on a more than two-year journey to nurse him back to health. Thanks to the help of a team of amazing physicians, incredible therapist and the support of family and friends he has made huge leaps.

Aaron's daily life is the same as any four year old. He laughs, plays, dances, and gets into mischief.

But he doesn't talk.

Aaron is severely impacted by Apraxia of Speech. Apraxia of speech is an oral motor speech disorder affecting an individual's ability to translate conscious speech plans into motor plans, which results in limited and difficult speech ability. In adults, the disorder is caused by illness or injury, while the cause of AOS in children is unknown. Aaron has very little expressive speech, which is extremely frustrating for him. Aaron gets therapy daily. He receives occupational, physical, speech and hippotherapy. Aaron also attends a wonderful developmental pre-school, but he needs a little more help.

This summer I met the trainers from paws4people at a local event. paws4people is a national non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing highly trained service dogs to individuals in need. I talked to them about the possibility of a service dog for our family. I submitted our application despite feeling it was a long shot we would be selected. Then, over Labor Day weekend, we got the call that Aaron could meet the service dogs in training in December and see if any of them were a good fit.

That was the most amazing news!

We drove almost 9 hours to West Virginia to meet the dogs earlier this month, and Aaron and HATTIE bonded after spending a few minutes together. HATTIE is a beautiful Golden Retriever. She will be able to assist Aaron at home, in the community, during therapy sessions and she will make school visits.

We are beyond thrilled to welcome HATTIE to our team, but we need your support. By contributing to our PayItForward campaign you are not only helping HATTIE join our family, but helping paws4people continue the mission of providing canine companionship and highly trained assistance dogs to others.

Trained service dogs are valued between $25,000 to $30,000. In order for HATTIE to be transferred to us, we will need to raise $10,000.

Please help us meet this goal with a tax deductible donation!
  • Jim Corbett 
    • $525 
    • 96 mos
  • The Flynns 
    • $25 
    • 96 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 96 mos
  • Rosie Cope Leach 
    • $25 
    • 96 mos
  • Chelsea Cope 
    • $100 
    • 96 mos
See all


Meredith McCumbee 
Wilmington, NC
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
Learn more
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • Expert advice

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more