Just about 15 years ago, the summer I married my very best friend, and about a year before my son was born, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We had no idea back then the course that my disease would take. I got my first wheelchair four years later. Though I didn't need the chair full-time, it was necessary when we traveled, and anywhere when I needed to walk more than 100 yards or so. As time went by, it's my disability progressed, I spent more and more time in my wheelchair. Now, I am in it full-time.
So far, with the exception of about a year when I didn't have a car, I have managed to remain stubbornly independent in spite of the limitations that a wheelchair can bring. I served on the board at Saint Peter/St. Francis school, was an active volunteer during my kids' years there, organize and run an annual event called "Women Gone Wild" (a fund raising event that over the years has raised upwards of $20,000 for various local charities), and I currently sit on the Board of Directors for Joyful Noise, Inc., Parent company of Chorus Angelicus and Gaudeamus.
Recently, I was accepted into ECAD's Service dog program. If you've never heard of ECAD, please go to their website at www.ECAD1.org and see the good that they do for people with disabilities, both visible and invisible. My dog would be educated to retrieve items for me such as my telephone, should I fall down and need to call someone. She would be able to find a family member anywhere on my property when I need help. As it is right now, if I drop something on the floor it stays there until someone can come home and pick it up for me. My dog would change that. She could bring me my shoes, help me with taking off shoes and socks, accompany me to all of the places that I need to go so that she can open doors that I can't open.
I went for my ECAD interview recently, and I walked several dogs from their litter that is just about a year old. These dogs knew heel, get it, take it, drop it, left, right, sit, down, stay, come, wait, get busy, in, out, go through, and several more commands that I know I can't remember right now.
The cost of a service dog from birth to death is about $25,000. ECAD runs on donations. They never charge for a service dog, but they require their program participants to raise money. Part of the reason for this requirement is because it without donations, there would be no ECAD. But the other part of the reason, and the more important one, is to involve the participant and his or her community in the process. Working hard to obtain a dog means that a participant is far less likely to slack off on the dog's training, and let her sit around getting lazy.
Which brings me to the gofundme page. This page is part of a multifaceted plan to raise the funds that I need before I can start my team training. There will also be events such as wine tastings, dances, etc. Please be on the lookout for all of the fun stuff coming up, and if you have a few dollars to spare, please hit the donate button.
A donation directly to ECAD via their website is a tax-deductible donation. Please mention that the donation is for Jennifer Zordan's dog. The comments section is available at the payment page, or send them a check with my name in the memo section to ECAD PO Box 251, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522. Any funds collected above and beyond the $10,000 that they require for this dog Will be put in a "Pay it Forward" account that will go toward my next dog. None of us like to think about losing a family member, but unfortunately this will not be the last service dog I will ever need.
And from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of my family, THANK YOU!